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Vol. XXXVIII-Part I April-2007 Serial No. 75 



Vol. XXXVlII-Part-I April 2007 Serial No. 75 


Department of Punjab Historical Studies 
Punjabi University, Patiala. 

(Established under Punjab Act No. 35 of 1961) 

Sardar Swam Singh Boparai 

Founder Editor 

Dr Ganda Singh 


Dr Navtej Singh 

Members Editorial Board 

Professor Parm Bakhshish Singh 
Dr Sukhdial Singh Dr K. S. Bajwa 


S. Charanjit Singh 

ISBN - 81-302-0114-3 

The writers themselves are responsible for the opinions 
expressed in their articles. 

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Takhat Sri Patna Sahib : Second Throne 
of the Sikh World 

Madhulika Singh 




The Radha Soamis of Beas : The 
Doctrinal Exposition 

Balwant Singh Malhi 



Artisans and Craftsmen in Early 
Medieval Northern Society 

Rajesh Hooda and 
Kuldeep Singh 



Process of Meos’ Conversion to Islam 

Aijaz Ahmad 



Formation of Sikh State : Contribution 
of Baba Sahib Singh Bedi 

Sukhdev Sharma 



Early Nineteenth Century Agrarian 
Economy of the Punjab : Reflections 
in European Travel Literature 

Kuhvinder Singh Bajwa 



Some Aspects of Municipal 
Development and Governance 
in Colonial Shimla : A New Urban Order 

B. L. Mehta 



Urbanisation in the Punjab : 
A Study of Dhariwal Town 

Babusha Maingi 



‘History’ in Popular Movements : ‘Use’ 
Against the British 

Navtej Singh 



Profile of the Village Money-Lender in 
British Punjab : A Historiographical 

Amandeep Kaur 



The Elections of 1946 in Punjab 
and the Muslim League 

Baljit Singh 



Partition Issue and Baldev Singh 
During 1946-47 

Sukhjit Kaur 



Punjabis During Partition : 
Reflections in Punjabi Novels 

Munish Singh 



The Sachar Formula and 
Struggle for Punjabi Suba 

Aarti Suri 



Historical Falsehoods in the Text-books : 
A Study of 1971 War 

Ahmad Salim 



(vi) The Panjab Past And Present April 2007 

16. Jats: The Original Inhabitants of India Sukhdial Singh 155 

Book Reviews : 

Surjit Hans 163 

Ranbir Singh Sarao 167 
Sukhdev Singh Sohal 173 

IV. Reflections On Baba Dyal and Nirankari Nazer Singh 177 

Movement, edited by Navtej Singh 

V. Dhadi Darbar: Religion, Violence and Navtej Singh 179 

the Performance of Sikh History, 

by Michael Nijhawan 

VI. Emergence of the Image: Redact Documents S.D. Gajrani 182 

of Udham Singh, edited by Navtej Singh 
and Avtar Singh Jouhl 

I. The Social Life of Money in the 
English Past, by Deborah Valenze 

II The Sikh Vision of Heroic Life 
and Death, by Nirbhai Singh 

/ III. Jinnah and Punjab : Shamsul Hasan 

Collection and Other Documents 
1944-1947, edited by Amaijit Singh 


Madhulika Singh* 

Bihar is one of the main centres of the religious community of Sikhs. 
The Gurudwara, situated in one of the oldest part of the historic city of Patna, 
marks the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh, the last spiritual head of the 
Sikhs. It is one of the holiest and most celebrated Sikh shrine in the whole of 
eastern India. The earliest contact of Sikhism with Bihar was at the close of 
fifteenth century when its founder. Guru Nanak, according to Sikh traditions 
visited the holy places of this province . 1 He pointed out the folly of meaningless 
rituals and emphasized on the worship of the name of God ( nam marga). 
During the course of his travel, he influenced and converted large number of 
people. His simple caste-levelling faith attracted persons of different 
denominations into its fold. To commemorate his visit, his followers later on 
established Sikh Shrines or Sangats. Thus Guru Nanak laid the foundation of 
Sikhism in Bihar . 2 

However, the succeeding Gurus were very much occupied with the 
affairs of Punjab. It was with the fifth Guru, Aijan, that the Sikhism was 
established as a separate religious system. He compiled the Sikh holy book - 
‘The Adi Granth’. He gave encouragement to the enterprising traders and 
became rich merchant Prince with a large following . 3 Sikh chronicles refer to 
the establishment of colonies of rich Khatri traders of Sikh faith at Patna, 
along with Agra, Prayag and as far as Decca, Chitagong & Sondip. These 
traders kept direct contact with the Guru as a representative of the new faith . 4 

* Department of History, Jammu University, Jammu. 

1 . Ved Prakash, "Famous Sikh Shrines of Patna", in Patna Municipal Corporation Souvenir, 
Centenary Volume, 1965; The Place of Patna in Sikhism,' in Patna Sikh Students 
Association Bulletin, Vol. - VII, January 1965. 

2. Khushwant Singh, 'India : An Introduction', Vision Books, 2004, p. 80; 'Bhai Bale 
SandhunaiF, A Biography of Guru Nanak, 'Janam Sakhi', McLeod, W.H., Guru Nanak 
and the Sikh Religion, Oxford, 1968, p. 227. 

3. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 82. 

4. Early European Accounts of the Sikhs, edited and annotated by Dr Ganda Singh, Calcutta, 
1962, pp. 67-68; The Comprehensive History of Bihar, Vol. Ill, Part II, edited by 
Dr K.K. Dutta, K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna, 1976, pp. 60-61. 


April 2007 

The Panjab Past And Present 
Guru Aijan's son, Hargobind ( 1 606- 1 644), who succeeded him, took up arms 
for preservation and protection of life and property of his followers. 5 His visit 
to Patna has been recorded in the XI th Var of Bhai Gurdas. By that time, Patna 
emerged as one of the important centres of Sikhism. 6 

Moreover, during the pontificate of the 7 th Guru, Har Rai (1644-1661) 
as held by Sikh versions, Bhagat Bhagwan of Bodh Gaya along with his 360 
followers embraced Sikhism. Bhagat Bhagwan established 360 monasteries 
in Bihar and was regarded as an ardent preacher of Sikh faith in Magadh. 7 

Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9 th Guru (1664-1 675) during the course of his 
missionary tour to the eastern region stayed for a brief period at various 
places in Bihar. 1 He stayed at Sasaram, Gaya and reached Patna in 1 666. 8 Sikh 
annals recorded Guru's stay and activities in Sasaram, where Agraharie traders 
in cloth and grain embraced Sikhism. 9 When Guru came to Patna, he stayed 
at a big Haveli on the bank of Ganga, handed over to him by a devout Sikh 
follower, Bhai Baisakhi Ram Khatri. Famous Sikh chronicles inform us that 
Guru left his family in Patna, before the birth of Guru Gobind Singh and 
proceeded towards Bengal and Assam. 10 While he was away in Decca, his 
wife Guzri, who was living in Patna with her brother, Kirpal Chand, gave 
birth to a child, the 10 th Guru and founder of Sikh military brotherhood. 
Takhat Sri Patna Sahib was built by the Sikh followers of this place (on the 
site of the house in which Guru Gobind Singh was bom) to commemorate 
this significant event and the visit of Guru Teg Bahadur. 11 

5. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 81. 

6. The Xl ,h Var of Bhai Gurdas, who was contemporary of the 3 rd , 5 th , 6 th Guru, has 
recorded Guru Hargobind's presence in Bihar. Bhai Gurdas, Vars, annotated by Hamam 
Singh Giani, Amritsar, 1944, and Hazara Singh, Amritsar, 1951. They form one of the 
best original sources for Sikh History. Letters of the Sikh Gurus ( Hukumnamah, called 
by Sikh followers) preserved in Takhat Sri Patna Sahib, Patna City, is also a valuable 
source of information. 

7. Ved Prakash, 'Sikhs in Bihar', Janaki Prakashan, New Delhi, 1981, p. 27. 

8. Sardar Attar Singh, 'The Travels of Guru Teg Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh, Lahore, 
1876 (translated from the original Gurumukhi); Surender Singh Johar, 'Guru Gobind 
Singh', Marwah Publication, New Delhi, p. 60. 

9. The Comprehensive History of Bihar, Vol. III. Part-II, op. cit,, p. 60; Francis Buchanan, 
Patna-Gaya Report, edited by V.H. Jackson, Patna 1 925, p. 388; O' Mallay, Shahabad 
District Gazetteer, 1 924, p. 42. His article entitled, 'The Agraharies of Sasaram', Published 
in the Journal of Asiatic Society, Bengal, Vol. LXXXIII, Part III, 1 904, pp. 35-43. 

10. Henery Court, 'History of Sikhs', 2nd edition, Calcutta, 1954, p. 38; The Comprehensive 
History of Bihar, op. cit., pp. 72-73; Surender Singh Johar, 'Guru Gobind Singh’, op. cit., 
pp. 24-25. 

11. Macauliffe, 'The Sikh Religion' , Vol. IV, p. 357;MaCauliffe "The Sikh Religion under 
Banda and its Present Condition", Calcutta Review, Vol. LXXIII, 1881. 

Takhat Sri Patna Sahib : Second Throne Of The Sikh World 3 

About the origin of the sacred site, the Sikh traditional account reveals 
that Guru Nanak, the founder of the faith hallowed it by his presence when he 
visited Patna. He stayed at the Haveli of Sailas Ray Jowahri which stood on 
the same site ardhnd 1 50 years before the birth of Guru Gobind Singh. 12 Guru 
Gobind Singh passed his first five years of his life at Patna. Many other 
places which were associated with his childhood now stand as a monument 
of Guru's early days. The Palace of Raja Fateh Chand and his wife has now 
spranged up as Maini Sangat. Another Sikh place of worship, on the banks 
of Ganga, near Takhat Sri Patna Sahib, where the young Guru used to play 
was transformed as Gurudwara Gobind GhatP Gurudwara Handi Sahib at 
Danapur, near Patna is associated with Guru's first place of halting, after his 
departure from Patna, when he was returning to join his father at Anandpur. 14 

However, even after leaving the province he was in constant touch 
with this region which is quite manifested from his letters ( Hukumnamahs ) 
written to Sikh followers of Bihar. 15 

Similarly, Sikh devotees of Patna were present in large numbers on the 
occasion of transformation of Pacificist Sikhs into a militant fraternity- the 
Khalsa in 1699 A.D. The whole congregation of Patna accepted Guru's 
innovation. Thereafter several thousands were baptised by drinking sweetened 
water, amrit (nectar) as established by Guru Gobind Singh. 16 The followers 
of Guru swore to observe five vows : to wear & carry Kesh, Kangha, Kuchh, 
Kada and Kirpan on their person. 17 

Macauliffe, a Sikh historian, writing in 1881 about the Sikhs of this 
region observed : "At Patna the Sikhs pay the strictest attention to the 
injunctions of Guru Govind. Sleeping or walking, they are never without the 
five K's. They consider themselves as the custodians of the Harmandir, the 
temple which marks the birth place of Guru Govind Singh." 18 It is reckoned 

12. Patna District Gazetteer, (1924), pp. 71-72. 

13. Bhagat Singh, 'Bihar Through the Ages, Orient Longman, Calcutta, 1959; Ved Prakash, 
op. cit., pp. 80-85. 

14. It is said that an old woman served the Guru with Khichri cooked in earthen pot 
(Handi). Now a new brick structure marks the site and Handi is said to be still present 
there; Kartar Singh, Life of Guru Gobind Singh, p. 24. 

15. Records, preserved in Takhat Sri Patna Sahib, Patna; Houlton John, 'Bihar The Heart of 
India', Bombay, 1944, pp. 16-20. 

16. Ibid.; Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 81. 

17. Ibid., pp. 81-82. 

18. The Comprehensive History of Bihar, op. cit., p. 69. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

among one of the most sacred shrines of the sect. It is also famous as the 
Second Throne among the five Thrones of the faith. 19 The Documents revealing 
valuable information about this sacred Sikh shrine are writings of Charles 
Wilkins in Asiatic Researches, Buchanan's Purnea, and Patna-Gaya Report, 
Persian Records, Court Proceedings & Judgements of Patna High Court etc. 

One of the earliest references regarding Takhat Sri Patna Sahib in Persian 
Records is found in Mirat-ul-Ahwal Jahan Numa by the Shiah Mujtahid Mullah 
Ahmed Bahpahani, who paid a visit to Patna and recorded his impressions 
about this religious institution. He refers Harmandir as "the birth place of 
Guru Gobind, the son of the 9 th Guru, over which the Sikhs have raised a 
public edifice, made it a place of power and strength and called it Harmandir. 
It is held in great esteem and veneration. They have made it a place of 
pilgrimage." 20 

Another reference about the Takhat Sri Patna Sahib was made by Charles 
Wilkins in Asiatic Researches of 1781, in which he called the then existing 
temple as "the College of Seeks." When he visited the temple, he saw some 
persons reading passages from the sacred book in adoration of their supreme 
being whom he perceived as students. However, it has served as a seat of 
learning. Even today, it is administering two high schools : one for boys, 
another for girls, named after Guru Gobind Singh. Moreover, under its 
patronage Guru Gobind Singh College of Patna city imparts instructions upto 
degree standard. The doors of the Gurudwara are open for all visitors 
irrespective of their religious beliefs. Similarly, there was no restriction on the 
admission of any one into the Sikh brotherhood. The Sikhs had. offered Sir 
Wilkins to admit him into their brotherhood. 21 Wilkins has also recorded his 
observations about the original building of this celebrated Sikh shrine. He 
recorded : "The whole building forms a square of about 40 feet, raised from 
the ground about six or eight steps. The hall is in the centre divided from four 
other apartments by wooden arches, upon pillars of the same material, all 
neatly carved. The floor was covered with a neat carpet and furnished with 6 
or 7 low desks ; the walls were hung with looking glasses. He added that the 
Mandir was surrounded by pretty large buildings for the accommodation of 
owners. 22 

19. The 5 Thrones are as follows in their order of significance (i) Akal Takhat, Amritsar, 
(ii) Takhat Sri Patna Sahib (iii) Takhat Sri Anandpur Sahib, (iv) Takhat Sri Hazur Sahib, 
Nanded; (v) Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo (Punjab). Patna District Gazetteer, 
1924, pp. 74-75. 

20. Patna University Library, M.S. (1802 AD), p. 374. 

21 . Sir Charles Wilkins, Asiatic Researches, Vol. 1, 1798, p. 293. His article entitled. The Seeks 
and their College at Patna.' 

22. Ibid., pp. 289-90. 

Takhat Sri Patna Sahib : Second Throne Of The Sikh World 5 

Similarly, Buchanan in his Purnea Report has mentioned about the Takhat 
of Patna city as one of the most splendid temple and has called it a "Sangat." 
He visited the Gurudwara in 1809-10 and recorded his impressions. He 
considered it as the original building constructed by the Sikh followers of 
Patna to commemorate the visit of 9 th Guru Teg Bahadur and the event of the 
birth of the 10th Guru. 23 However, the local tradition gathered by Dr Ganda 
Singh in 1 933 A.D., reveals that the original building of Gurudwara had been 
damaged by fire in the early 19 th century which did considerable damage to 
the edifice. This fact was supported by the inscription on the black slab 
placed on the western gate of the present temple. It says that Maharaja Ranjit 
Singh of Punjab came forward and arranged for the renovation of the temple 
damaged by the natural calamity. This source also informs us that the work of 
renovation of the temple began on 1839 A.D. and completed on 1841 A.D. 24 

Similarly, another slab set up at the Gurudwara says that "the work of 
repair and renovation of the temple was undertaken collectively by all the 
Sikhs of the country which started in 1954 to 1957 A.D. These evidences 
support the fact that the building of Takhat Sri Patna Sahib since that period, 
has undergone several changes and in its place stand a completely transformed 
and a very imposing structure. 25 Moreover, historical documents and 
observations on the Takhat Sri Patna Sahib divulge valuable information about 
its administration, religious activities, ceremonies, proselytisation work, its 
resources, and management of its finances etc. 

The religious activities performed in the Gurudwara Sahib struck at the 
veiy root of the influence of Brahmins which started disassociation of Sikhism 
from Hinduism and consolidated Sikhism into a separate sect. 

Takhat Sri Patna Sahib as a birth place of Guru Gobind Singh, reminds 
the devoted followers of Guru's innovations and teachings which pronounced 
Sikhism as a separate faith. 26 The Guru explains these changes to his 
followers : "I wish you all to embrace one creed and follow one path, 
obliterating all differences of religion. Let the four Hindu castes who have 
different rules laid down for them in the Shastras abandon them altogether 

23. Francis Buchanan, Patna-Gaya Report, Vol. I (1811-12), p. 67; See also edited with 
note and Introduction by V.H. Jackson, Patna, 1925. Sir John Houlton, 'Bihar : The 
Heart of India', op. cit., p. 16. 

24. Patna-Gaya Report, op. cit.,p. 67; Ved Prakash, op. cit., pp. 98-99. 

25. W.W. Hunter, 'Statistical Account of Bengal, London, 1877, Vol. XI, Patna& Saran, p. 56. 

26. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 83. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

and, adopting the way of cooperation, mix freely with one-another. Let no 
one deem himself superior to another. Let no one pay heed to the Ganges and 
other places of pilgrimage considered holy in the Hindu religion or adore the 
Hindu deities." 27 Further, Sir Charles Wilkins, writing in 1781 A.D., observed 
that in Takhat Sri Patna Sahib, the process of admitting new converts into the 
Sikh faith was quite simple and easy. The neophyte was baptized by the 
ceremony of Khanda Amrit Chakhao, i.e., initiation with the dagger, as 
established by Guru Gobind Singh. The ceremony was officiated by the five 
initiated one, the Panch, who were always present in the Gurudwara. Five 
verses from the Granth were chanted and at each interval, the mixture was 
sprinkled on his body. The person enjoined to follow the tenets of his new 
faith and a Guru mantra was given to him. After the ceremony, the Sikhs 
distributed Karah Prasad (sacred food) among those present at the moment. 28 
Even today, almost the same ceremony mentioned by Sir Charles Wilkins, is 
performed for admitting proselytes. Proselytisation has been one of the most 
outstanding features of Takhat Sri Patna Sahib since early times. A huge 
amount of money was earmarked in its budget for the missionary work. The 
propagation work since years, has been carried on by this religious institution 
in many districts and villages of Bihar. This missionary activity has resulted in 
bringing number of people of Bihar into its fold. 29 Buchanan's Patna-Gaya 
Report of 1811-12 recorded that at that time there were 360 Sikh monasteries 
or gaddis and there were about 50,000 Sikhs in Patna alone. 30 

Similarly, another most extraordinary religious duty of Takhat Sri Patna 
Sahib and its administration was the maintenance of Langar Khana or free 
Kitchen in feeding of Faqueers. This has been recorded by W.R. Jannings, 
the Collector of Patna who personally visited Takhat on 22 nd December, 1832. 
He saw 40 or 50 poor people, residing on the spot and being supplied with 
food. Food was also distributed among several outdoor poor people twice or 
thrice a week. 31 The institution of Langar has also proved to be important 
factor in freeing society from the bonds of die-hard casteism. Besides these 
activities, two occasions - Gur Purub and the birth anniversary of Guru 

27. Ibid. 

28. Asiatic Researches, op.cit., p. 83. 

29. The Comprehensive History of Bihar, op. cit., p. 66. 

30. Patna-Gaya Report, pp. 14-15; Census Report of India, 1911, Vol. V, Part II, p. 246. 

31. Takhat Sri Patna Sahib received monetary grants from the then Government for this 
purpose; Collector's letter to Commissioner of Revenue for Patna Division, 5 ,h Feb. 

Takhat Sri Patna Sahib : Second Throne Of The Sikh World 7 

Gobind Singh were celebrated with great joy and festivity in Takhat Sri Patna 
Sahib. These two festivals are still celebrated with pomp and show. On these 
occasions, under the banner of Takhat Sri Patna Sahib, missionary works 
were also organized at various places which has resulted in bringing some 
people of Bihar into the fold of Sikhism. 32 

As regards the mode of worship performed in Takhat, we can form 
and idea from the eye-witness and descriptive accounts, left to us by Charles 
Wilkins, and Buchanan's Patna-Goya Report. Wilkins recorded that joint prayer 
from the Granth in praise of the unity led by Mahant or Pujari was daily 
repeated five times. They prayed against temptation; for grace to do good; 
for general good of the mankind; a particular blessing to the ‘Seeks’ and for 
the safety of those who at that time were on their travels. At the conclusion 
of the (prayer) Karah Prasad, called sweet-meat by Wilkins, was 
distributed among the people. 33 However, Buchanan's Patrta-Gaya Report 
records deterioration in the standard of daily worship. He reveals that the 
meetings were quite irregular and very few in numbers. 34 The mode of daily 
worship, described by Sir Charles Wilkins has hot undergone any marked 
change even after a lapse of two centuries. 

Hov/ever, huge amount of money was required for the maintenance of 
Gurudwara, its religious activities, ceremonies, for proselytization work and 
for Langar Khana. Money flowed into the Gurudwara's funds from daily 
cash offerings, donations, income from landed properties donated by rich 
devotees, and above all state government's monetary grants. Moreover, the 
other resources which also added to the Gurudwara's funds were donations 
from various chiefs, Rajas, offerings in cash by the pilgrims of other parts of 
the country. 35 The Court Proceedings in Persian regarding Local Agent's case 
of 1847 inform us that contributions to the Takhat Sri Patna Sahib's funds 
were also provided from time to time by Maharaja of Patiala, Faridkot, Nabha 
and of Sind State. 36 

However, revenue realised from the landed property of Gurudwara was 
the main channel of its income. The Takhat had been in possession of various 
lands, villages, Gardens and markets. The most notable being : Property at 

32. Ved Prakash, op. cit., pp. 120-121. 

33. Asiatic Researches, op. cit., ; Patna District Gazetteer, 1924, p. 72. 

' 34. Patna-Gaya Report, op. cit., pp. 14-15. 

35. Takhat Sri Patna Sahib Records, op. cit., The Records furnish us with valuable information 
about some of the sources of income of this famous temple raised at the birth place of 
the 10 ,i Guru. Ved Prakash, op', cit., pp.. 121-123. 

'36. Ibid, p. 122. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

1 72, Harrison Road, Calcutta; Garden and Properties at Resham Katra, Benaras; 
Property at Gai Ghat and Maini Sangat, Patna city; 101 bighas of land at a 
village of Gaya district; rent realized from Guru Gobind Singh Market constructed 
on the land adjoining the Gurudwara; Guru ka Bagh of Patna, granted by Nawab 
Rahim Bux and Karim Bux in the name of child Guru Gobind, which is still in 
possession of Takhat Sri Patna Sahib. 37 To control its huge funds and to administer 
this historical Sikh shrine, the Company's Government kept it under its direct 
control. From 1810-1865 it was under the management of Board of Control, 
Bengal. A Committee of Local Agents, constituting some members, headed by 
magistrate and collector, helped the Board of Revenue in the general 
superintendence of endowments. 38 However, in 1863, superintendence over 
Takhat was transferred from the Board of Revenue to the District Judge of 
Patna, when the Religious Endowment Act was passed. 

It came under the jurisdiction of district judge of Patna who was 
authorized to appoint managers or Mahants responsible for the management 
of Takhat. 39 Clause XIV of XX of the Act 1863, specified that any neglect in 
the management of the institution or embezzlement of its funds by the Mahants 
if detected, could terminate their services. Whereas their tenure of service 
could be extended on the basis of their devoted work. 40 Buchanan's Purnea 
Report (of 1809-13) is one of the earliest documents which gives detailed 
information of the management and administration of Takhat Sri Patna Sahib. 
He recorded that the temple was managed by a saintly person called Mahant 
or Ptijari. He was assisted by more than fifteen functionaries for discharge 
of religious duties related with the temple. A committee was constituted which, 
with the approval of Panchans or trustees of Harmandir, appointed different 
functionaries like - Langri, Chiragi, Dhupia, Farashia, Ardasia, Ragi etc. 41 

Besides being presiding authority of Takhat Sri Patna Sahib, -the Mahant's 
control was also acknowledged by other subordinate Sikh shrines and sangats. 
He had to keep a vigilant eye on the activities of the heads of various Sikh 
sangats and gaddis. Moreover, to administer control over this wide-spread 
organization, Mahant of the Takhat was assisted by a number of staffs, whose 
duty was to supervise religious services of subordinate Gaddis- such as 
Gurudwara Guru Ka Bagh, Gobind Ghat Gurudwara, Gurudwara Sonartoli 

37. Ibid. 

38. Patna University Library, MS, op. cit. 

39. Ved Prakash, op. cit., p. 104. 

40. Ibid., pp. 104, 105. 

41. F. Buchanan, Purnea Report (1809-10), Patna, p. 428. 

Takhat Sri Patna Sahib : Second Throne Of The Sikh World 


and Gurudwara Gai Ghat. 42 All these subsidiary places were guided by the 
provisions of the constitution and by-laws of the temple of Guru Gobind 
Singh. In addition to Mahant or Pujari, the five initiated one of the faith, the 
Panch or Panchans, permanently resided in the temple and were also responsible 
for the entire management of Takhat Sri Patna Sahib. 43 

The proceedings of the department of Commissioner of Revenue of 
Patna and Saran district, dated 30 th November, 1848, informs us about the 
mode of appointment of Panchans. The document says that the Panchans 
were appointed at the proposal and with the unanimity of the Sikhs, who 
resided in the town and the gentries of the town, who were familiar with this 
religion. 44 Documents related with the affairs of disbursement of funds of 
Takhat reveals that approbation of Panchans or trustees were necessary for 
disbursement of funds. The Court Proceedings regarding the cases of the 
Local Agents, ’dated 17 th August, 1847, referred that Mahant had to take 
advice and approval of the Panchans in the affairs of the Takhat. The balance 
sheet of income and expenditure was signed by them, which was again 
checked by the office of the Amin, appointed by the court. 45 There are evidences 
of mutual conflicts between Panchans or trustees and Mahants in the 
management of the shrine. 

However, there are also references of a few outstanding personalities in 
the long list of Mahants of this great shrine, who were treated with reverence 
by the people. Baba Sumer Singh ( 1 847- 1 903), occupies a prominent place in 
the history of the Sikhs of Bihar. He enjoyed a longer duration of about 21 
years (1882-1902 A.D.) as a head of this religious institution. He was a 
renowned Hindi poet and scholar and occupies a prominent place among the 
literary luminaries of that period. Baba Mukand Singh (1913-1930) and Baba 
Kartar Singh Bedi, were also respected as custodians of the shrine due to 
their good conduct. 46 

Lastly, some relics of the past have been preserved in Takhat Sri Patna 
Sahib, which makes it a most revered Sikh shrine of the east. Of the sacred 
objects related with Guru Gobind Singh to be seen at this holy site, are Guru's 
cradle, ivory shoes, the Granth Sahib containing signature of Guru, a wooden 
comb, a small Khanda (two edged sword) and a small iron chakri. Besides 

42. Ibid. 

43. Ibid. 

44. Ibid. ; Ved Prakash, op. cit., pp. 104-105. 

45. Ibid, pp. 107-113. 

46. Ved Prakash, "Baba Sumer Singh", (an article) in Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Punjabi 
University, Patiala; The Comprehensive History of Bihar, op. cit., p. 90. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

these articles of Guru Gobind Singh, the shrine also contain some sacred 
objects of immense historical value, such as Guru Teg Bahadur's sandal wood 
shoes, three wooden looms of Bhagat Kabir, Letters of Baba Guruditta (son 
of Guru Hargobind), Guru Hargobind, Guru Teg Bahadur and Guru Gobind 
Singh . 47 Devoted Sikh followers perceive Takhat Sri Patna Sahib as pilgrimage 
and visit it at least once in their life time. 



Balwant Singh Malhi* 

In order to explain a particular doctrine we must first make careful and 
comprehensive examination of its sources . 1 Moreover environments have got 
much to do in moulding man's outlook. They affect us both positively arid 
negatively. Man is an agent if not a slave of the happenings around him. Even 
Karl Marx said that the things are what the environment have made them. 

Every prophet borrows something from the existing belief of his time. 
The borrowing may always not be positive. Even the rejection and reaction to 
certain beliefs is borrowing, because the source stimulating the negative attitude 
lies in those unacceptable beliefs already existing. We may take for instance 
any historical religion. 

The two aspects are always there. The very name of God Allah was 
borrowed by the prophet of Islam from the polytheistic names of the tribes of 
Arabia. Allah was the chief God of the tribes . 2 

The prophet refined the concept and said that Allah was not the chief 
God but the sole God, no God beside him. La Ilaha La LI Allaha. Oil the 
negative side he found the tribes worshipping idols and as a reaction he rejected 
them absolutely . 3 Such has been the case with Hinduism, Buddhism, Bhakti 

* Lecturer in History, Sikh National College, Qadian-143516, Dist. Gurdaspur. 

1. Wirdal Band, 'History of Philosophy', p. 15, quoted from Sher Singh, Philosophy of 
Sikhism, Sterling Publishers, 1960. 

2. E.H. Palmer, 'The Sacred Book of the East', Edited by Max Muller. 

3. The major publications of the Beas Centre are : 

(a) i. Sar Bachan (Punjabi Poetry) ii. Sar Bachan (Prose) v 

(b) Jaimal Singh, Spiritual Letters. 

(c) Sawan Singh : 

i. The Dawn of Light 

ii. Discourses on Sant Mat 

iii. Philosophy of the Masters ( Gurmat Sidhant ) and 

iv. Tales of the Mystic East. 

(d) Jagat Singh, Science of the Sc'd. 

(e) Charan Singh : f , * 

i. Die to Live ii. Light on Sant Mat 

iii. The Path iv. Quest for Light 

v. Spiritual Discourses vi. Spiritual Heritage. 

L.R. Puri, Radha Soami Teachings. 

(and about 30 biographies of the Masters of the Beas group and other Indian 
and foreign saints). 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

Movement & Sikhism. 

In the same way the Doctrine of the Radha Soamis is in indebted to the 
Ancient Vedic literature, Buddhism, Christianity, Bhakti-Zoroastrianism, the 
Bhakti reformers, Sufism, Sikhism and a total of the teachings of about 122 
Saints and Bhaktas whose bani has either been incorporated in the Adi Granth 
or could not find place in this Granth due to geographic, periodic and linguistic 

We have both Radha Soami and non-Radha Soami publications on the 
subject in addition to some scholarly works on the subject. Though all the 
centres of the Radha Soamis have published their history, philosophy and 
achievements in the form of biographies, teachings and annual reports, the 
major work has been done by the Agra based centre and the Radha Soami 
Satsang Beas immediately followed by the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Ashram, Delhi. 4 

The Beas group has made the teachings of Shiv. Dyal as its basis though 
these hardly differ from the teachings given in Adi Granth except in language. 
In January 1861, Shiv Dyal had started publicly explaining the Sant Mat to a 
few people who gathered at his place. The Satsang (True Association) 
continued for seventeen years and during this period about four thousand 
persons — men and women, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Saravagis and a 
few Christians were initiated by him into the Sant Mat. Most of these were 
householders. But some (about three hundred) were Sadhus also. 5 

Saints, it is said, are free from religious bias and are not bound by the 
dogma and ties of any religion. They are above all religious and live in the 
transcendental realm of pure spirit. Neither do they try to destroy old religions 
nor do they start any new one. 6 

But one has to agree with the view that the teachings of a particular 
Saint take the form of a faith first and then of religion. So far as the teachings 
are moral, it is a faith. But when social problems and political discussions and 
controversies are added, it obtains the form of religion. 7 

It is why Shiv Dyal kept aloof from the bonds of the formalities and 
external practices of different religions prevalent in the world, nor did he bind 
his followers to any new set of religious observances. 

Today people have come to attach much importance to the word or 
phrase Radha Soami. Name has been explained as of two types in Bachan 10 
Shabad-l of Sar Bachan Poetry. These two kinds are : 

4. Baba Jaimal Singh, A great Saint of India. 

5. Lekh Raj Puri, Radha Soami Teachings (3rd ed.), Radha Soami Satsang, Beas, 1982, p. 16. 

6. Charan Singh, Spiritual Heritage, Radha Soami Satsang, Beas, 1 968, p. 66. 

7. Lekh Raj Puri, Radha Soami Teachings, p. 17. 


The Radha Soamis of Beas : The Doctrinal Exposition 

(a) Bamalmak 8 

(b) Dhuniatmak 9 

(a) Barnatmak Name It is that name which can be uttered by the 
tongue, i.e. which can be spoken and written, it is a word or phrase of 
language. Such names are Hari, Gobind, Madho, Khudah, Allah, Maula, God, 
Heavenly Father, Wah-i-Guru, Om, Brahm, Parbrahm, Satnam, Anami, Radha 
Soami. All these are Barnatmak names — because all of them can be spoken 
and written. 

(b) Dhuniatmak Name Dhuniatmak Name is not a word or phrase. 
It can neither be uttered by the tongue nor heard by the ears. It is a divine 
melody or celestial music which is transcendent, i.e. beyond the senses and 
intellect. It can be contacted by the soul alone which eventually merges in and 
becomes one with it. 

Shabad and soul are in essence the same. When the soul contacts the 
Shabad then one comes to what Dhuniatmak name is but later when by 
devoted practice the soul merges in Shabad then we fully realize the meaning 
of Dhuniatmak name. 

This 'Shabad' the transcendent divine harmony or celestial music is 
known by a variety of names. Guru Nanak calls it Bani (word). Guru Bani 
(guru's word), Sach (truth), Hukam (command), Dhun (melody), Shabad 
Dhun (melody of the sound), Bhana (will), Anhad (limitless), Anhad Shabad 
(limitless sound). Sat Shabad (true sound), Akath Katha (unutterable utterance), 
Ajapa Jap (unrepeatable repitition ). 10 

In the Vedas and Upnishads, it is mentioned as Nad (eternal sound) and 
Akash Bani (heavenly voice) and Bang-i-Ilahi (voice of god). Jesus Christ 
calls it 'The Word' and 'Holy Ghost'. Shiv Dyal calls it Dhun (melody), Dhun 
Anhad (limitless melody) and Shabad (sound) and he also denotes it by the 
word Radha Soami." Shabad and soul are in essence the same as God. There 
is therefore a natural spiritual magnetic attraction between them. So when the 

8. Same as Vernatmak 

9. Same as Dhuniatmak. 

1. Tmr frad<x a? spbIi ge 1 ' fefa t? adtt'fcfl ii 

2. UA'dHcT 3P§’I §§■ cF E3»''0'll 

3. WZZ’otg WoJJ W trit 35W U31I 

feucf ’ifa U33 - if 3tmrll (WT.dt. 10:5). 

4w W HBH Hern 7TW U?>T3Hor §U T !I {’JfH’.Ut. 10:5). 

10. Jagat Singh, Science of the Soul (6th ed.), Radha Soami Satsang, Beas, 1982, p. 46. 

11. Charan Singh, Spiritual Heritage. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

soul is turned towards Shabad, it draws it up as a magnet draws a needle and 
ultimately takes it home to our heavenly father . 12 This is the difference between 
Barnatmak name and Dhuniatmak name. The former is a word denoting a 
thing but the latter is a thing itself. Barnatmak is the verbal name of God. But 
Dhuniatmak is the essence of God himself. 

Thus we can say that any name of God in words is Barnatmak ; but the 
essence or Being of God is Dhuniatmak. 

Barnatmak name has further been divided into two kinds 

(i) Zati Inherent ; and (ii) Sifati Attributive. 

(i) A Zati or Inherent name is an attempted initiation, transcendent 
sound coming out of Anhad Shabad at a certain inner stage : such as Om at 
the plane of Brahm and Sat-Sat or Haq-Haq, at the stage of 'Sat Nam', (ii) A 
Sifati or attributive name is one which we have given to God because of 
some attributes of His such as heavenly father, i.e., our true father who is in 
heaven; 'Ram', i.e., all pervading Being; Almighty, i.e. all powerful; Anami, 
i.e. without any name. Similarly, Radha Soami is an Attributive name of the 
Supreme Being. Radha Soami means the stage at which Radha (the soul) 
merges into 'Soami' {Shabad). It is an attributive name of the highest being. It 
shows why He is called by this name. In themselves words are only words; 

. they are mere symbols. They are part and parcel of the phenomena of this 
world . 13 

But Dhuniatmak name is not a part of this phenomena. It exists in 
absolute reality. It is the essence of that reality. The word 'Radha Soami' is 
not to be confused with the actual anhad shabad, which is meant to devote; 
it should never be taken as a substitute for the real trancendent melody. It is 
not Dhuniatmak but only attributive Barnatmak and should always be regarded 
as such . 14 But in his book 'Saar Bachan', Shiv Dyal has at places confused 
the word Radha Soami with the transcendent melody. 'By singing Radha 
Soami', says Shiv Dyal, do thou make the life fruitful. This very name is the 
real, original name of God. Cherish it thou in your mind. Here Radha Soami 
means Anhad Shabad' f In his book Saar Bachan (poetry) Shiv Dyal has put 

12. Lekh Raj Puri, Radha Soami Teachings, Radha Soami Satsang, Beas, p. 49. 

13. ibid, p. 41. 

1 4. Charan Singh, Spiritual Heritage, p. 111. 

1 5. Shiv Dyal, Saar Bachan, Radha Soami Satsang, Beas. 
d'U 1 JptPHt die or" TTK 

few uf irfe oft farren-r (3:1) 

anr gw>ft arfe sra htjh crefr (3 : 2) 

grcp- fr an# ret nt (H3raiws)i 

The Radha Soamis of Beas : The Doctrinal Exposition 15 

down as many as four hymns (stanzas or paragraphs) to explain what he 
means by this new word. In his stanza 2 : 1 he says Radha Soami Name : 
attributes of this name do I tell thee. Lend me thine ears. Point by point shall 
I describe. 16 

The first attribute of this word 'Radha Soami' he tells; five letters are 
used for this in Hindi and in the Persian script letter ten. Of five shabad doth 
(does) it tell the secret and to the tenth stage doth it take men. 17 Then he goes 
on to give us the second attribute of this word Radha Soami — This one attribute 
have I told thee the second openly do I now describe. Listen ! Radha is the 
name of dhun (melody) and Soami is the secret of shabad. Know thou dhun 
and shabad as one : twist them make thou no difference as between water 
and its waves.’ 6 The third attribute let me describe now : lend me thine heart 
and listen thou to me with thy mind. Radha is the lover and Soami is the name 
of the beloved Lord. 19 

Fourthly, Shiv Dyal says that Radha Soami is the name of the prime 
soul. - Soami of prime shabad in his own Realm. Surat Shabad and Radha 
Soami know thou both the names as one Surat enjoyeth bliss with shabad. So 
doth Radha stay by the side of Soami. Radha Soami known thou as two; but 
one do they become in the realm of Sat Lok. 20 Thus, Radha means Surat or 
soul and Soami means Shabad or God. Radha or Surat is ultimately to join 
Soami or Shabad. Thus, common union of soul with God. Thus we can say 
Radha Soami or Surat Shabad; it means the same thing. Radha Soami path is 
the method or Shabad Yoga by which the soul finds access to the Satlok, its 
eternal home. Shiv Dyal says that by learning the method of Surat Shabad (or 

16. Shiv Dyal, Saar Bachan, Radha Soami Satsang, Beas. 

auF rpjrvft zph Pus** ora for <wr off i 
zr?f cto <r jjttt f^cs firar ajll 

17. Ibid., 2:2 

IPH >>fcr 5 T 3 ' MUT If I Fra* G'dnl >Hc<Hd HIT Ifll 

1 PH HW cP HUT HcPW 3 " H 

18. Ibid, 2:3 

Her Phgji era <Gde wrat I fira? Hirat ora hthTii 
nnpgTT cp tphha'Q'i rrenft hhh te ydwQ’ll 
i»ra hhh hot era tpS i tra shht hh #h ?r w^il 

19. Shiv Dyal, 'Saar Bachan', 2 : 4 

Pn6d dl H dl old Hlr<V I Hrt PrioJ K old dI<S 1 II 

huf ute rrares' arrat i eften snr oraat i 

era ftra? snarfe oft 3ti hpp rrara iran gids^fratll 

20. Ibid. ,2:5 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

this Radha Soami name), I have attained true bliss and then the pleasures of 
this world have become tasteless . 21 Radha Soami also means the highest Being 
of God called 'Anami Purush' where the soul merges in Shabad and becomes 
one with it . 22 

Radha Soami has also been used to denote Guru for the real Being of 
Guru is Shabad and Guru is one with Shabad and Anami Purush: 23 At another 
place in praise of the human foim of Guru, Shiv Dyal says that I am a moon 
bird and Radha Soami (my guru in the human form) is my moon; Satnam and 
Anami (or Radha Soami is the trancendent Being of God). I like most. The 
entire thought and practices of the Radha Soami centres around the name 
Radha Soami, which seems to be unique in the Sant tradition. A curious 
reader finds it strange as to why a faith which rejects the whole Hindu pantheon 
has a name — Radha Soami . 24 Probably the designation of the founder Swami 
and that of his wife Radha suggested this name . 25 To distinguish the 
nomenclature of the new sect from Hinduism, it was named Radha Soami . 26 
But naming of a faith merely after the founder's name fails to satisfy a scholar. 
It seems necessary to explain the real meaning and significance of the name. 

In the Radha Soami faith, the ultimate reality is Radha Soami. In Hinduism 
and its branches the ultimate reality is Brahma and Ishvara. Brahma is 
considered to be the highest reality in Vedanta. The founder of Radha Soami 
faith however came forward with a new concept. According to them, Brahma 
of Vedanta is limited to the second grand division of the creation whom they 
call spiritual material division. They hold that Brahma is not the true Supreme 
Being or the highest reality because he is not perfectly free from mind and 
matter. They assert that though spiritual components predominate in Brahma, 
there is Maya latest in the seed form and a Supreme reality having the last 
admixture of Maya cannot be styled as the highest truth. They envisaged the 

21. Ibid.,l:A 

HUT HETtT H3F H3- HUT JFSUft 7TH ft Hhfl 

22. Shiv Dyal, Saar Bachan, 7 : 5 

3U 1- IT vddH lud'dl I JHrdg-d d'U 1 mHUft HU77 H«S i dl 

Hdcf del >HHt offi Vldlrt'rft UdH rlTd HVFcftl 

23. Ibid, 172 

sTef Tremt ara' or Truri fer irer infer sra fbH3 T Hii 

24. J.N. Farquhar, Modern Religious Movements, p. 167. 

25. Shiv Dyal was generally addressed by his followers as Swami Ji and his wife (though 
her actual name was Narain Devi) was addressed as Radhe Ji. It is said that both ofthem 
used to walk on the bank of Jamuna in the evening adored as Radha and Krishan. Hence 
the name given to both Radha & Soami, Radha Soami. 

26. AL. Shrivastava, Souvenir, 19 th Session, Indian History Congress, Agra 1956, pp. 98-99. 

The Radha Soamis of Beas : The Doctrinal Exposition 


highest and the first grand division of creation as the region of the true Supreme 
Being who is absolutely spiritual and totally free from mind and matter. Such 
a true Supreme Being they have named as Radha Soami. 27 

The founder of the faith at Agra have a few allegorical interpretations to 
put forward to explain the two components of the word Radha and Soami. 
Salig Ram, the second guru at Agra (1828-1893) says that the Supreme Being 
may be compared to an ocean. A creative ocean be perceived without 
commotion. The first wave of the endless ocean is Radha. The original current 
is not different from but is identical with the ocean itself and as it comes out, 
so it is ever drawn towards it. The creative ocean is therefore Soami and the 
first original wave just identical to the ocean is Radha. The two together form 
the ocean full of spiritual bliss and truth. Hence Radha Soami. 28 

Brahman Shankar Mishra, the third guru at Agra in his writings tried to 
explain the name on scientific grounds. According to him the components of 
Radha and Soami represent in their letter form and in articulate speech and 
sound accompanying the spirit current and its focus. 29 Comparing the action 
of the spirit force to that of a magnetic force he says, "The tons of Ether 
observed in a magnetic field and subject to two forces (given out by the two 
poles of magnet). At one pole it is a storage of energy and at the other it is its 
depletion. The poles are subjected to tremors. This is the first effect in the 
sphere of the attractive force. Similarly prevailing attraction in spirit force 
can resolve into attraction currents, which are made of series of attractive 
impulses. The later sound Radha is accordingly the nearest approach in 
articulate speech of subtle sound accompanying the actor of the spiritual 
currents. Thus, Radha Soami is the source of all creation. 30 Followers of the 
faith are knitted in one organisation known as "Radha Soami Satsang". It was 
named thus when the first guru at Agra established the organization, 31 in 
1861. The reason, evidently is that devotees are required to keep the name of 
the Satguru constantly in their heart; by giving this name to the organisation 
the first guru perhaps also meant to provide a built in reminder to them about 
the holy name. It is therefore logically correct to name the sect as "Radha 

27. A.P. Mathur, Radha Soami Faith, Vikas Publishing House, Delhi, 1 974, p. 26. 

28. Rai Salig Ram (HazHrMahdia.}),PremPatraRadhaSoami, Part II, Agra Bachan 15, pp. 

29. B.S. Mishra, Discourses on Radha Soami Faith, Agra, 1968, p. 128. 

30. Loc. cit. 

31. Partap Singh Seth, Jiwan Cheritra Soami Ji Maharaj , Radha Soami Satsang, Agra, 1909, 
p. 37. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

Radha Soami faith attaches too much importance to the guru. Guru or 
the master is the pivot around whom the whole system revolves. The 
techniques of Surat-Shabad Yoga and the secrets of Sat Shabad they say can 
be revealed by Satguru alone who is the Deh Swarup of Sat-Purush Radha 
Soami Dyal . 32 Shiv Dyal in his book Saar Bachan had said that Nij Rupa is the 
father and the reservoir while Deh Swarup is the son and the current. Satguru 
is also known as Nij Dhar and Nij Putra of the Supreme Being. He functions 
in this world as the representative of the Supreme Being and possesses all his 
attributes— love, bliss, light, energy, truth and spirit . 33 

As 'Shabad is a transcendent entity, we cannot have it from the books. 
To achieve it, the guru is essential. Without the help of guru or master, nobody 
can cross this ocean of phenomena ( maya ). But if we take shelter with a 
perfect guru, he will save us. Those who want salvation from the cycle of 
eighty four lac kinds of life should devote themselves to the service of the 
guru. However, there is a point of difference between a saint and a true 
master (Guru). The true guru can lead his disciples to Satlok while a saint has 
only individual or limited access to Satlok . 34 

A true guru is he who is joined to Shabad. If a guru does not follow the 
path of the Shabad, he is not a perfect guru. The criterion that Swami tells us 
to distinguish the real guru from all others is that he should have merged in 
Anhad Shabad . 3S The Guru tells us about the five stages upto Satlok, their 
distinctive melodies and transcendent entities, their ruling spirits or 
manifestations, of God and their special features all within our body and then 
helps his disciples externally and internally i.e. on the physical plane as well as 
in the inner subtle spiritual realms to make them tread the difficult and intricate 
path of five melodies to search the true home Satlok . 36 

It is not necessary for a perfect saint Or true guru to be married or 
unmarried, educated or uneducated or to be from a special caste, creed, 
religion or place. What is imperative is that he must be able to tell the course 

32. Shiv Dyal, Saar Bachan, p. 115. 

eta UtT ofcT amt tor 3Ta 5T5t am cS 7 mjt (Hm 5^77 17:1) 

33. Ibid., 23:1. 

jraaia for ?rm nrfr few ar fr jreara na?7 hhw i 

34. Shiv Dyal, Saar Bachan, Radha Soami Satsang, Agra, 24 : 1 . 
la* did Ua 7 d'tl (T 7 did U73 7 tt HUcT 

35. Ibid., 23 : 1. 

Han vraaft aia tt a# i h fst ara mill 

36. Shiv Dyal, Saar Bachan. 

urn U77 im **<*»■« i naa af am feus 7 #!! 

The Radha Soamis of Beas : The Doctrinal Exposition 


of five Shabads and take the souls of his disciples from here to the ultimate 
absolute stage of Sat Pursh-Radha Soami ? 1 Radha Soamis believe that since 
Shabad is trancendent- entity and therefore cannot be achieved by reciting 
books or conveyed to others by means of ordinary language. Only a living 
person contemporary of ours can open this current of Shabad in his disciples, 
just as a lighted candle can lighten other candles too, similarly an awakened 
soul can awaken other souls too. Guru is one with God himself and can unite 
his disciples with Him . 38 

Without devotion to a living and true guru one cannot get rid of his 
egoism; because true love and devotion is mutual and reciprocal. Our love for 
the saints of past is more of admiration than of intense love. It is one sided 
and therefore it cannot develop and produce the effect of love and real devotion 
which is transcendent knowledge and union with God. For this a living guru, 
it is said, is necessary . 39 The worship of living guru is the worship of God 
because he is an incarnation of God on earth and if one gives his devotion to 
guru, it is devotion to God himself. Direct contact with God is impossible 
except through the guru. 

A follower who seeks the help of a true guru and is shown the way of 
contacting the supreme being and follows the guru in physical and spiritual 
realms is called gurmukh. He is to surrender his body and soul in the service 
of the guru. He is devoted disciple and has made access to satlok. He is a 
perfect saint and one with God. The only difference between a gurmukh and 
a guru is that the guru has not yet authorised him to initiate the soul. But in 
rare cases (the Gurmukhs living far away from the Guru) are sometimes 
allowed to initiate the soul if the guru cannot afford to visit those places. 

Those who think that they are giving their love and devotion to God 
directly are labouring under a delusion. It is only a whim (fancy), an idea or a 
fancy of theirs. Without coming in contact with a person or being, we cannot 
in the true sense love or be devoted to that being. Hence God cannot be loved 
by us directly (in our present state). He can be loved only in the person of a 
saint or guru. 

Every faith or religion has got a particular method or ceremony by 
which a person can enter that faith. The Jain monks and Buddhist Bhikshus 

37. L.K. Puri, Radha Soami Teachings, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, 1 965, p. 85 . 

38. Loc. cit. 

did 5T HH Hrtfci HU H'rt % U Hc*UdH H'rt II 

39. L.K. Puri, Radha Soami Teachings, p. 85. 
fueS oft h mu tcp-i d ctdl »mr suf thru 
urnr k §^oft Hftnr emuH^Hsror uamii 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

joined the faith through particular ceremony held in public. To read Kalma in 
Islam and Amrit Shakna in Sikhism are the different methods for entering 
these religions. For Radha Soami faith the process or method is called initiation. 
It is the way or the secret Nam or Bhajan leaked out to the Initiate. The 
Initiate is bound not to disclose it further to a non-satsangi 40 and keep it as a 
secret throughout his life. 41 In the times of Baba Jaimal Singh, the Initiate was 
given a welcome and the guru was ever ready to initiate the seeker. It could 
be any time, day or night. Because the seekers were very rare. Baba Jaimal 
Singh could initiate only 2740 seekers in the 28 years of his Mastership. 42 

Baba Sawan Singh who lead this movement to new heights also adopted 
the attitude of his predecessor and he even went after the seekers, preached 
from home to home, village to village and town to town to bring maximum of 
the seekers to his faith. He initiated individuals as well as groups. As Sawan 
Singh was the main architect of this movement of Beas. He initiated a total 
1,25,375 souls during the 45 years of his Mastership. 43 Jagat Singh was strict 
discipliner and he rarely stressed on the increase in number. He avoided running 
after the seekers and as the faith was on sound footing he concentrated 
mainly at the Dera. He initiated a total of 24 1 1 seekers 44 in his limited period of 
Mastership for three years. 

The process of initiation has been almost the same during the time of all 
these gurus. The seeker is enquired about his diet. He should be a strict 
vegetarian and a teetotaller. If the person has been making use of these things 
he is forbidden to do so in future. Then the seeker is taken to the closed door 
and asked to sit in yoga and concentrate on the third eye (Between the two 
eyes) and the picture of the Master before him and recite the name Radha 
Soami. The process goes on for more than one hour. Some people who are 
not in the habit of sitting for such a long time even fall down. It is said that 
during this sitting the practice of health yoga is adopted by way of which the 
tenth door is opened. For initiation secret of five shabads is told to the seekers. 45 
The seeker should have full love and faith in the guru and he is required to 
make complete surrender. Further he has to renounce mind, body and wealth. 
The examples of Guru Angad and Guru Amar Das surrendering before their 

40. A Satsangi is a fellow companion who has been initiated by the Guru. 

4 1 . Kirpal Singh, A Great Saint Baba Jaimal Singh : His Life and Teachings, p. 27. 

42. D.L. Kapoor, Heaven on Earth, p. 57. 

43. Rai Sahib Munshi Ram, With the True Master, p. 89. 

44. Science of the Soul, p. 56. 

45. Sawan Singh, Gurmat Saar, Radha Soami Satsang, Beas, 1981, p. 6. 

The Radha Soamis of Beas : The Doctrinal Exposition 


respective gurus are given. To meet a true guru is to realise one's limitations 
and blessedness in being accepted at His feet. Humility on the part of the 
seeker is another virtue necessary for this Sant Mar g. 46 

According to Radha Soami Gurus the origin of the universe is due to 
Anami Purush. He has been named as Swami, Akah, Nirala or Radha Soami. 
He is the creater of all. Like the Sikh Gurus, Radha Soamis described him as 
indescribable. He is said to be beyond human intellect and senses, beyond 
human understanding, i.e., beyond the level of consciousness of this physical 
world and the mental planes . 47 The truth of that Highest conscious state cannot 
be put into words of any language. Consequently inspite of all their description 
and explanation, Radha Soami Gurus say their experiences are indescribable. 
Those who had themselves had those transcendent experience understand 
the writings of Gurus fully to prompt them to try the method of realisation for 
themselves but in reality those are ideas of entities which are beyond all ideas 
and thought . 48 

The highest phase of God i.e., Anami was at first all in Himself, and the 
process of creation had not started. The Beas gurus are satisfied by Shiv 
Dyal's theory that there was nothing before creation, neither master nor servant, 
even Satnam or Anami : i.e. even the highest being whom we call Anami or 
Radha Soami had not assumed any shape or form. He had not manifested 
himself as such. The founder of the faith Shiv Dyal said that there was a time 
or' level or consciousness when even the Supreme Being or Radha Soami or 
Anami was not as such. This was a time when nothing was manifest and the 
lord had not yet projected himself. He was wonder, wonder and again wonder. 
There was nothing else. Only he was a Himself by Himself, all Himself, 
wonderously wonderful. The Anami (God) created first Himself as then three 
more phases of his own being in a complete and perfect form, called the three 
stages of Agam, Alakh, and Satnam. 

Thus the full complete and perfect being of Anami or Radha Soami is 
found in the four stages from Satlok or Anami. The four being ( Satnam , 
Alakh, Agam and Anami or Radha Soami) are only four aspects or phases of 

46. D.L. Kapoor, Heaven on Earth, p. 88. 

47. Shiv Dyal, SaarBachan. 
rear rear E’H sr renft i 
<sel rearm ar arm 

48. Ibid., 25:1 

^ oranF - 1 ^ to aw rrawii 


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April 2007 

the same Supreme Being whom Radha Soamis called Satnam , Anami or Sat 
Purush Radha Soami, the highest and final absolute lord. Here it has been 
stressed again that Sat Purush Radha Soami is one being and not two distinct 
entities. Hence the seeker is advised to look upon these four stages viz. - 
Satlok, Alakh Lok, Agam Lok and Anami or Radha Soami as only one grand 
realm of the most concentrated essence of spirituality and of absolute eternal 
reality . 49 These four stages are thus inner sub-division of that grand realm, 
and for practical purposes we may consider them all as one stage. Shiv Dyal 
had given details of each stage devoting one shabad to each stage from Satlok 
to Anami. He has put them all in the description of Satlok and thus treated 
them as sub-parts of one grand realm of spiritual transcendence. 

Human body has been explained as the temple of living God and made 
to matter, astral matter and the soul. Also like the Sikh Gurus it has been 
referred as House of ten gates. Also the idea of division of body to six lower 
chakras is similar to Pinda, Anda and Brahmanda, but their exercise stands 
rejected by Jagat Singh. Then five stages of spiritual life have been explained. 
Also effort has been made to propagate three stages above the spiritual realm 
but Charan Singh opined that there are three parts of the highest Tealm. The 
system of Surat Shabad Yoga as explained in the ancient sacred literature and 
the Adi Granth has been advocated and the stress has been laid on Simran, 
Dhyan and Bhajan as prerequisites for salvation. This practice enables man 
to control his mind which is very essential to start for spiritual journey. About 
the scriptures the Radha Soami Guru have said that one cannot attain salvation 
only by reading them. Only the living Guru can tell the method. The service 
of the Guru with body, wealth, mind and soul is also essential. The traditional 
view about the law of Karma as preached in the Vedic literature, Bhakti cult 
and Sikhism has been accepted by the Radha Soami Gurus. 

Views about humility, love, devotion and prayer have also been borrowed 
from the Sant Mat and the Adi Granth. Since time immemorial salvation has 
been declared as the ultimate goal of human life and the saints in different 

49. Shiv Dyal, Saar Bachan, 26:5. 

35 ytt H 1 c*)l I 

w Her or HA'yi to >k i w % hto Oi'crll 
>rov yw or ju wofi yro few to jitii 
>>reTO ctot ?? trot i crer cmr w rag - 

affe LraET WT Blrt «« I Hdd H3TII 

ij>T fdti'H MV ) Hfcr 3'dl I d'Li' H’Hnfl' ofTO UoTatll 

The Radha Soamis of Beas : The Doctrinal Exposition . 23 

ages have laid stress on different ways like Gyan Sidhant, Karam Sidhant or 
Bhakti Sidhant. The Radha Soamis after studying the lives of the Sikh Gurus 
particularly the lives and teachings of the first five Sikh Gurus have stressed 
upon the meditation of one Supreme Being through a living master or Guru 
for the reunion of the soul with its creator. They find ritualism as unnecessary 
and useless which in the past has been adopted by the followers of different 
sects and faiths and has revolted against the useless, superficial and superfluous 
rites and rituals cropped up in the prevailing religions after the expiry of the 
true Gurus or Saints. Though Radha Soamis do not borrow directly from 
Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity still their effort is to imbibe a 
synthesis of all these and enjoin the whole society as has been done by the 
true saints in the past. 


Rajesh Hooda* 
Kuldeep Singh** 

Artisans and craftsmen of North India played a pivotal role in the socio- 
economic life of the early medieval India. Various categories of Artisans and 
craftsmen, located in both rural and urban regions, not only fulfilled the needs 
of people in daily life but also achieved mastery in their Arts and crafts and 
merited fame far and wide. 

Being always active partners in the Socio-Economic and cultural life of 
the aforementioned period and forming an integral component and sizeable 
section of the society, the class of Artisans and craftsmen deserves an 
exhaustive and critical evaluation in its proper perspective. An endeavour has, 
therefore, been made here to analyse the professional life of the Artisans and 
craftsmen against the background of the entire milieu of the early medieval 

In the period under study we have found a lot of names of Artisans and 
craftsmen i.e. potters, leather-workers, wood-workers, ivory workers, glass 
makers, mirror makers, makers of musical instruments, umbrella makers, 
perfume-makers and cosmetics makers, oil makers, salt makers and others. 
Now we shall describe one by one the position, their work quality, their 
houses and their class in which they were associated. 

Ceramics is one of the most important products ever made by man. It 
is thought that the potter's wheel originated in Elam 1 . The hereditary occupation 
of the potters continued throughout the period. It is clear that the potters 
fulfilled the needs of the villages as well as of the towns. The rich people 
generally used metal vessels for their household needs, but for religious and 
ceremonial purposes, the earthenwares were used. The villagers commonly 
used earthen pots. Subhashitara-tnakosha 2 mentions earthen vessels used in 

* Deptt. of Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology, K.U., Kurukshetra (Haiyana). 

** Lecturer, Govt. College, Ratia (Haryana). 

1 . Cambridge Ancient History, Vol.-I, p. 579. 

2. Subhashitaratnakosha, V. 1312; Saduktikarnamrita, 2, 84. 

Artisans And Craftsmen In Early Medieval Northern Society 25 

the villages. Aryasaptasati refers to churning of milk and curd in the earthen 
pots . 3 This leads us to believe that there was a large scale demand of 
earthenware and that the potters enjoyed a good deal of importance, 
particularly in the villages. 'Naishadacharita' describes the process used for 
making earthen pots. It tells us that the craftsmanship of a potter was dependent 
on his apparatus, i.e., on the wheel for moulding pots . 4 The lump of clay was 
put on the wheel, which was then rotated and the potter moulded the clay into 
various shapes. Glazed clay was collected from particular places for making 
vessels. The earthenware was heated on a particular temperature in the hearth. 
The technique of firing the pots in the kilns is given in the Prabandha 
Chintamani 5 . Alberuni also refers to the potter and his wheel . 6 

The inscription of the early medieval period also refers to the potters 
and their guilds. In this context the Kaman stone inscription 7 and the Siyadoni 
inscription 8 give important information about the guilds of potters, and attests 
their prosperity. Amarakosa 9 names different guilds and includes the 
Kumbhakara Sreni among them. An inscription of Somesvaradeva refers to a 
number of professional colonies including Kumbharavada 10 (potter's locality). 
Similarly the Kamauli Grant of Vaiyadeva refers to a Kumbhakara- 
bogyavahin 11 . Thus we find that potters lived in a particular area in the village. 
Although the pottery of the early medieval period cannot be compared 
favourably in refinement and smoothness with the potteries of the earlier 
period. The archaeological excavation atPaharpur Mahasthan (Bogra), Sabhar 
(Dacca) and other places have yielded numerous specimens of the pottery of 
the period in the form of storage Jars, lotas, cooking utensils, dishes, saucers, 
inkpots and lamp stands, besides terracotta plaques 12 the potters made different 
kinds of vessels. Harshacharita mentions several kinds of water-pots such 
as Karkaris, Sikatilakalasis, Alinjara and Udkumbha 13 . Sarava, a type of plate, 
was used at prapas, drinking inns in some villages of north India. Hiuen- 
Tsang noted with interest that vessels used in households were mostly 
earthenware, and a few of brass . 14 

3. Aryasaptasati, VV, 104 and 344. 

4. Naishadacharita, 1 1, 32. 

5. Prabandhachintamani, 111, 127. 

6. Sachau, Alberuni’ s India, 1, p. 239. 

7. El, XXIV, p. 329ff. 

8. Ibid., I, p. 162 ff. 

9. Amarakosa, 11, 10,6. 

10. EI,X,No. 4, 1.27. 

1 1. Gaudalekhamala, 1; Kamauli grant, 1,60. 

12. Harshacharita, p. 228. 

13. T. Watters, On Yuan Chawang’s Travels in India, 1, p. 178. 

14. CII, IV, p. 169. 


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April 2007 

In the early medieval period we have a number of references to leather 
workers from which we learn about their socio-economic position in the 
society of the period. The leather workers belonged to a particular caste. In 
our sources the terms used for them are Mochi , 15 Mochivada 16 , Charmavada ’ 7 
and Charmakara 18 . Although leather- workers belong to a lower caste, generally 
regarded as untouchables in the society, yet sometimes they participated in 
religious performances . 19 Some leather workers enjoyed a fairly good economic 
position. The charter of Vishnusena of the Kalachuri dynasty refers to a tax 
on Khalla (leather). Presumably, both in north and south India, the leather 
workers supplied articles like straps for making drums, strings (guts) for 
lutes of various types, and bezoar for the worship of the deities . 20 Elsewhere 21 , 
we find that a mochi (shoe maker) named Devapala was a religious-minded 
and rich person, and got erected a temple in honour of God Narayana at 
Khalvatika, modern Khalari in the Raipur district of Madhya Pradesh. 

From the accounts of Hiuen-Tsang, we learn that leather workers 
prepared shoes to be used by the people . 22 Kshemendra also refers to leather 
shoes . 23 The Khalari stone inscription of Haribrahmdeva speaks of a shoe- 
maker . 24 The high craftsmanship of leather workers is indicated by the 
"Peacock-shoes" which were used by rich and fashionable women in the 
region of the present day Jammu and Kashmir. 2S Sculptural representation 
from Bengal, Bihar and other places show the use of boots by Surya and 
Revanta 26 . Images of soldiers and the sun god are shown with high boots . 27 
Hence making of shoes was a thriving profession of leather workers. Besides 
shoes other household goods of leather were also manufactured by the leather 
workers. Leathern vessel called Driti, which was a large leather bag for 
storage of water, is described in Brihatsamhita 2 * . Drums were much in use in 

15. El, X, pp. 30-31, 11, 27-28. 

16. Ibid. 

17. Prayaschitta Prakarana, HBR, I, p. 577. 

18. B.N. Sharma, Social and Cultural History of Northern India, p. 38. 

19. El, XXX, 163ff. 

20. K.A. Nilakantha Sastri, The Cholas, p. 569. 

21. T. Watters, 'On Yuan Chawang's Travels in India, 1, p. 151. 

22. Naramala, 1,109,204. 

23. Cn, IV, Ins. No. 108, Verses, 9. 

24. P.N.K. Bamzai, p. 221. 

25. Ajmer Museum, 1 (65), 373/3; R.C. Majumdar, History of Bengal, I, pp. 457-58. 

26. Urmila Aggarwal, Khujuraho Sculptures and their Significance, p. 1 86. 

27. Yogayatra, 1, 4. 

28. Harshacharita, p. 142. 

Artisans And Craftsmen In Early Medieval Northern Society 


north india, and according to the Harshacharita, the leather workers themselves 
were the drummers 29 . It shows that making of drums by leather workers was 
also a common profession. 

According to Bana, leather workers also prepared leathern bags and 
sacks for carrying goods by army when on march. Kshemendra speaks of 
leather water bags used by the people 30 and leathern bottles were manufactured 
for keeping oils 31 . A surgeon carrying a bag 32 of quite a modem design with a 
long strap with which to hang it on the shoulder and a button to keep the lid 
in place has been shown in a Khajuraho sculpture. We also learn that leather 
workers manufactured leathern cushioned seats used in the theatres 33 . These 
workers also produced defensive weapons like shields for battlefields. 
Sukranitisara refers to leather artisans as deserving of the attention of the 

In the period under review different kinds of wodden articles were 
manufactured by the professional class of wood workers. It appears that in 
this time the wood artisans and craftsmen organized themselves into a caste. 
Rajasekhra mentions the caste of Vardhakis 34 as being connected with the 
professional work of carpenters. The wood workers fulfilled the needs of the 
people of villages and cities. These workers produced and repaired wooden 
objects of household use. Brihatsamhita mentions cots, different kinds of 
wooden vessels, boxes, chairs, tables, planquins, pestles, combs, ladles, pastry- 
boards and numerous other articles which were used in the society 35 . The 
village carpenters produced the mortars and pestles 36 , oil-presses 37 , and wooden 
frames ( Kashthamanchikas ) 38 for keeping water jars at the inns. Adahaka, a 
wooden vessel, was also used by the villagers for measuring paddy . 39 Two 
most important peasants’ implements that they manufactured for the villagers 
were plough and the harrow 40 . In some implements wood and metal were 

29. Naramala, 1, 109, 124. 

30. Desinamala, 111,21 : V, 22. 

3 1 . Back Inner Pradaksh in the Lakshman Temple. 

32. P.N.K. Bamzai, op. cit., 260. 

33. Sukra,l 1,202. 

34. B.N. Puri, 'The History of Gurjara Pratiharas' , p. 132. 

35. Brihatsamhita , LVII, 39, 4 1 . 

36. Krishiparasara, V, 91 ; Saduktikarnamrita, 2, 84. 

37. Aryasaptiasati,V. 292. 

38. Harshacharita, p. 228. 

39. Krishiparasara, W. 112ff. 

40. Ibid 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

jointly used, such as in oil-presses, sugar presses, spades, sickles, Rahats 
and implements for cutting grass and wood. It seems that in this period the 
role of the village carpenter was highly conspicuous in the economy of north 
Indian villages. 

There were a large number of wood workers both in cities and towns 
in the various regions of north India. They manufactured all kinds of vehicles, 
household objects, tools for various purposes, houses, temples and numerous 
artistic objects. The sculptures of the period frequently display the cart and 
the chariot. Harshacharita refers to the wooden bullock cart . 41 The Banaras 
plates of Kama 42 and Jabbalpur stone inscription of Jayasimha 43 describe the 
construction of chariot, which was the specialization of some wood workers 
of the time of Kalachuris. Some wood workers prepared different kinds of 
boats on a large scale. Big boats and ships were also used for internal and 
external trade. In Yuktikalpatarv < 44 there is a detailed description of various 
kinds of boats and of the method of building boats. In this period, ships could 
be with or without cabins. Ships with cabins were known as Agramandira, 
Madhyamandira, and Sarvamandira depending on whether the cabins were 
in front, in the rear or situated all over it. The third type was used by the kings 
and queens, the second one by the sovereign during rainy season, and the 
first one for military expeditions. 

Tilakamanari and Sringarmanjarikatha refers to wooden furniture like 
chairs, couches and bedsteads. Some wood workers worked only for the 
king or the palace. The doors and windows of their houses were decorated 
and painted by proficient women. According to Kalhana wood workers 
constructed wooden houses in Kashmir . 45 One of the most distinctive specimens 
of the wood work of this period can be seen in the wooden temples of Chamba 
(Himachal Pradesh). Judging by the surviving Lakshana Devi temple at 
Chhatrarhi, which includes parts of the original structure, one can easily 
surmise that Shiva and Ganesh temples were largely made of wood. 

The term 'Dantakara' in our literary and archaeological sources denotes 
'Ivory workers'. Articles of ivory have been used for domestic purposes 
since ancient times. It seems that during this period the artistic products of 
ivory were in great demand. The ivoiy workers gained their raw material 

41. Harshacharita, p. 2291, El, XI, p. 41. 

42. CII, IV. Ins. 48, Verse 20. 

43. Ibid, Ins. 64, Verse 23. 

44. Yuktikalapataru, Chap. 120-21, pp. 224fF. 

45. Rajatarangini, VIII, 2390. 

Artisans And Craftsmen In Early Medieval Northern Society 29 

from the forests where elephants were to be found. Kalachuri inscriptions 46 
give us valuable information about the raw material for ivory carvers. The 
four fold unit of army caught the elephants from the forests and ivory was 
gained from tusks after the death of Elephants. 

The ivory carvers manufactured various kinds of ornaments. 
Naishadiyacharita A1 refers to ivory bracelets, while anklets of well polished 
ivory are described in Mansollascd* . Vamanpurana mentions that the residence 
of Shiva, built by Visvakarma, had an arched gateway of ivory with ledges 
( Danta-torananirvyuha ). 49 Balconies made of ivory ( Dantavadabhi ) are 
mentioned in Manasollasa 50 and Sringaramanjarikatha of Bhoja. 51 The Edilpur 
plate of Kesavasena refers to palanquins supported by staffs made of elephants' 
tusks. 52 The legs of cots were also made of ivory. 53 People used ivory cages 
( Nagadantika ) for housing sparrows. 54 Kshemendra speaks of the figures 
made of dirty ivory ( Danteshu Malpuraneshu ). 55 Thus the ivory carvers 
produced several articles of daily use,.and also luxury items for the rich 

The use of different kinds of glass vessels is suggested by 
Rasaratrakara 56 of Nityanatha Siddha. Another text speaks of, the different 
types of glass articles of domestic use in this period. Apparently the profession 
of glass making assumed considerable importance in the society. In fact glass 
became an article of international trade. An Arab writer named Ibn-Khurdab, 
who died in 912 A.D., tells us that glass was obtained from Gujarat. The 
author of Rasratnasamuchchya describes precisely the characteristics of glass. 57 
P.C. Ray observes that purification of glass was well known to the glass- 
makers of the period. 

It seems that Kashmir was also fairly advanced in glass technology. 
According to Kalhana, large glass jars were regularly despatched to the king 

46. CII, IV, Ins. 84, Verse 11. 

47. Naishadhiyacharitn, XI, 108. 

48. Mansollasa, 1, 956. 

49. Vaman Purana, 54, 2-3. 

50. Mansollasa, 11, 126. 

51. Sringarmanjarikatha, p. 46. 

52. IB., Ill, pp. 127ff. 

53. Mansollasa, 111, 16, 1943-44. 

54. Naisadhiyacharita, XVIII, 15. 

55. Desopadesa, 11, 30. 

56. Bharliya Vidya, VII, pp. 148-60. 

57. Motichandra, Trade and Trade Routes in Ancient India, p. 203. 


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April 2007 

Bhoja of Malwa by a merchant named Padmaraja . 58 Moreover, a quantity of 
ancient glass fragments was found strewn on the road leading from the village 
of Kother to the spring of papasudana . 59 It seems appropriate to conclude that 
this area was an important centre of glass manufacture in the early medieval 

Literary sources of this period refer to the mirror as a domestic object 
which was most probably used in every household. But most of the references 
are to metallic mirrors. The songs of Sarahapada mention mirrors and inform 
us that they were made of metal . 60 A close study of Yuktikalpataru reveals 
that mirrors were manufactured from Suvarna (gold), Rajata (Silver), Trapu 
(lead) and Loha (Iron ). 61 The best mirrors were made from Ashtadhatus . 62 
Another quality of mirror, according to Dohakosa was Riddhidarpana which 
was bright and clear on both the sides . 63 The author of the Yuktikalpataru 
classified the mirrors as Bhavya which was one Vitasti in length; Vijaya, 
which was four angulas long and broad, and Paurusha, on which fell the lull 
length of a person. Thus it would appear that making of mirrors was a fairly 
popular profession. 

From several sculptures appearing in the temples of Khujuraho and 
Bhuvanesvara, it is evident that mirrors were widely used in this period. In 
the sculpture of these temples mirrors are shown mostly used by women . 64 
For instance in a scene a woman is shown looking into a mirror, admiring her 
personal beauty. Mirror is used in its different shapes and for reflecting different 
parts of the body. The depiction of mirrors found at Khu juraho, mostly in the 
hands of ladies are of convex surface, which shows that metallic mirrors 
were in vogue. It seems that mirrors were very popular in the early medieval 
period, and the mirror-makers met the requirement of the age competently. 

The Sanskrit term Sangeeta means more than what is ordinarily denoted 
by the English word music. Man started playing on instruments of music 
with the very dawn of civilization. Early medieval text Brihatsamhita refers 
to several kinds of musical instruments 65 prepared by artisans and craftsmen. 

58. Rasaprakasasudhakara, quoted in Bhartiya Vidya, VII, pp. 148-60. 

59. Bamzai, A History of Kashmir, pp. 210-1 1. 

60. Ibid. 

61. Dohakosa, p. 337, V.106 

62. Yuktikalpataru, p. 80, V, 5. 

63. Ibid.,p. 81, V. 10. 

64. Dohakosa. 

65. O. Takata and T. Uneo, The Art of India, 1, Pis. 209 and 210; Urmila Aggarwal, 
Khujuraho Sculptures and their Significance, pp. 143 ff, Fig. 94. 

Artisans And Craftsmen In Early Medieval Northern Society 


The author of the text mentions the Vina, Vallaki (lute); the Venu (flute), the 
Panava (Turya, trumpet); the Mridanga, Muraja { tabor); the Sankha (conch- 
shell); the Ghanta (gong); Pataha, Bheri and Dundubhi. The tradition of 
making instruments continued from the earliest times. Vatsyayana includes 
music among his sixty four arts. According to Dandin the lute 66 , the Drum 67 , 
the clarionet, flute and conch 68 were generally used. 

It appears that different musical instalments were used for different 
purposes. According to Kalhana, some instruments like drums, conches, bells, 
lutes, flutes and bagpipers ( Huddukas ) were used in temples for religious 
purposes in Kashmir . 69 Some musical instruments were made to be used on 
festivals and marriage occasions. Some were manufactured only for military 
purposes. This enhanced the importance of musical instrument-makers and 
their profession. Instruments like drum, flutes and lutes were used for 
stimulating the army or making terror prevail in the battlefield. War music 
was performed by special musicians and instrument-players. Among them 
drummers are very important. 

Various types of musical instruments with their players have been 
depicted in sculptures on the bas-reliefs of temples in north India. The damru, 
the mridanga, the harp and the clarionet are shown along with musicians on 
Vishvanath temple at Khujuraho. A beautiful scene on the Javan temple depicts 
a party of men and women playing on various musical instruments, such as 
flute, the cymbals, the conch shell, the Vinna and the bell . 70 Khujuraho sculptors 
depict a number of scenes of women playing on musical instruments . 71 It is 
evident that artisans and craftsmen manufactured musical instruments on 
massive scale. There were professional workers — those who earned their 
livelihood by supplying musical instruments. Some artisans or leather workers 
manufactured only drums of many varieties . 72 Groups of people purchased 
these instruments from professional music instruments makers. 

Umbrella ( Chhatta ) protects one from the rain and the sun. The expertise 
of the umbrella are elaborately discussed by Bhoja in his Yuktikalpataru 73 . 
Some artisans prepared umbrellas only for the king. The Visesha, a special 

66. Brihatsamhita, XXXIII, 23; XLU, 60. 

67. Daskumarcharita, p. 149 : Avantisundrikatha, pp. 7, 9. 

68. Avantisundrikatha, pp. 76, 89, 231. 

69. Ibid., pp. 162-63. 

70. Bamzai, The History of Kashmir, pp. 259 and 261 . 

71 . Archamandap Javari Temple, both left and right sides. 

72. R.C. Majumdar, The Age of Imperial Kanauj, Chap. XII, p. 367: 

73. El, XI, 192, Harshacharita (VII). - 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

type used by the ruler, had two categories; Nirdanda (which could not be 
folded) and Sadanda (which could be folded). It is interesting to note that 
sometimes the umbrella makers prepared a special quality of umbrella for 
rituals. In this context an inscription of our period refers to the dedication of 
an umbrella to the deity Somanatha by Vatsaraja the father of Triiochanpala. 
We learn from various references in our sources that umbrellas were also 
used for military purposes, say, for concealing the army march. The rows of 
umbrellas were unfurled, and held close to one another, so that the day light 
was hidden and darkness ensued . 74 Big umbrellas on a large scale were used 
for this purpose. This is attested by the early medieval writers . 75 The craft of 
manufacturing umbrellas on a large scale was necessitated and satisfied a real 
need in the society. 

The author of the Brihatsamhita presents a very interesting picture of 
the citizen who used perfumes, ointments and other cosmetics with great 
care. In a chapter under the title " Gandhayukti " K , the word Gandhayukti, 
stands for the science of cosmetics and perfumes-makers used chemical 
processes for manufacturing perfumes. The description of Hieun-Tsang, 
Harshacharita and Kadambari bear out an extensive interest of people in 
perfumes and cosmetics . 77 Viddhasalabhanjika, a work ofRajsekhara, speaks 
of method of applying Cosmetics and perfumes in particular seasons. 
According to fhe Mahaban inscription there was a class of the perfumers 
called Gandhavanika 78 who used Yantras (Machines) for extracting liquids 
from flowers and other fragment materials. Thus we can say that making and 
selling of perfumes and cosmetics were important occupations in the society. 
Various varities of perfumes and cosmetics were produced on a large scale. 
The credit for the popularity of such items greatly goes to the skill of the 
artisans, engaged in the profession of making perfumes and cosmetics. 

In the inscriptions and literaiy sources of the period, the oil-millers 
were generally known as Tailikas . 19 These artisans worked with the wheel 
and were, therefore, also called charikas 80 or Chakracharasf The oil mill 

74. I A, XII, pp. 201 ff. Copper plate of Trilochanapala Chalukya of Latadesa. 

75. Kalingattu Purana, X, 33-34. 

76. P.C. Chakrawarti, The Art of war in Ancient India, pp. 1 03ff. 

77. Brihatsamhita. Chap., LXXVI. 

78. Watters, Vol. I, p. 152; Harshacharita, p. 17; Kadambari, p. 84. 

79. Brihad-dharm Purana, Chaps. XIII-XIV. 

80. Brihatsamhita X, 5; XVI, 3 1 . 

81. Ibid.,X. 9. 

Artisans And Craftsmen In Early Medieval Northern Society 


was called Ghranka ? 2 The preparation of oil required a very simple process, 
and the oil-men used it to produce oil from mustard seeds 83 both black 84 and 
white 85 , sesame ( Tila ) 86 and linseed 87 during the Gupta and later period. We 
find a mention of the Tailika Sreni in the Gwalior inscription of the Pratiharas . 88 
Oil mills were directly dependent on agriculture. Harshacharita mentions 
numerous oil seeds, according to it, mustard was grown in the Sone (Sona) 
valley of Bihar 89 , and also in the part of Srikantha Janapada (Haryana and 
U.P.). Krishiparasara, a work on agriculture mentions mustard 90 and sesame 91 
cultivation. Abhidhanaratnamala , 92 Varnaratnakara 93 Kalaviveka 94 , 
Ramacharita 95 Kalika Purana 96 and Aryasaptasati 91 furnish important 
references about cultivation of oil seeds in north India during this period. 
These references clearly indicate that oil manufacturing was an important 
and regular business. Oil manufacturers were wealthy and made religious 
endowments. In some cases they had to pay taxes to the king frequently, the 
oil millers were also asked by the king to make donations to the temples . 98 It 
is clear that economically the oil manufacturers were very sound. An inscription 
of the Paramaras dynasty speaks of a religious endowment where Tailakaraja 
Bhaiyak gave oil (two Ghanis) xo a temple for a perpetual lamp . 99 

Salt is a mineral product, and the salt makers engaged in this profession 
collected it from the salt pits and then purified it. The inscription of Chandellas 100 , 

82. Ibid., X. 12. 

83. CII, IV, 45, See E.N. Pari, The History of Gurjara-Pratiharas, p. B2. 

84. Amarkosa, 9. VI, p. 203; Brihatsamhita, XXIX, 5. 

35. Ibid., 9, 19, p. 204. 

86. Ibid, 9, 19, p. 204. 

87. Ibid., 9, 19, p. 204; 4, 76, p. 99; Brihatsamhita, V, XXV, 2. 

88. Ibid, 9, 20, p. 204. 

89. Gwalior Stone Inscription , El, I, pp. 1 56ff. 

90. Harshacharita, pp. 56-57. 

91. Krishiparasara, V, 21 7. 

92. Ibid.,\, 167 

93. Abhidhanratnamala, 11,425-29. 

94. Varnaratnakara. p. 43. 

95. Kalavivek, pp. 378-80. 

96. Ramacharita, 1, 14. 

97. Kaliko Purana, 74, 23. 

98. El, XIV, 1, p. 287 : JOHRS, 1 and 7. 

99. EL XXIII, pp 137, 141. 

100. JA, 16, 206. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

Gahadavalas 101 and Kalachuris of Tripuri 102 and Rajputana 103 speak of grant of 
salt pits and the right of manufacturing salt to donees. Kshemendra says that 
salt was imported to Kashmir. Probably salt was not produced in the valley of 
Kashmir, and was imported from central India and the Arab countries. Evidently, 
there was a considerable advancement in people's knowledge about salt and 
its preparation. 

A number of artisans and craftsmen were engaged in several crafts of 
some-what lower categories in the villages and townships in north India. 
These artisans and craftsmen, however had their own importance in the 
society. In this context the basket makers or shield-makers are enumerated 
by Alberuni . 104 Various kinds of baskets were highly useful in agricultural 
economy. Yogeshvara speaks of the winnowing fan ( Surpa ) and sieve ( Titau ) 
in his verses in village life . 105 Mats were also made for several purposes. 
Some Artisans prepared brooms for sweeping houses. These were made of 
grass, date-leaves and slender mid ribs of the palm for making ropes. Rope- 
makers used hemp, Munja, Kusa, and Kasa, coconut-fruit fibres, and hair of 
cows . 105 Conch-shell workers ( Sankhakaras ) prepared bracelets and other 
articles. Dohakosa contends that these conches were obtained from the ocean 101 
and were source of income for the coastal people. Liqueur manufacturers 
prepared different varieties of wine from coconut juice ( Narikelarasasava) m , 
Mahua flowers ( Madhutkasavamadya )' 09 and juice of grapes, dates, palmyras 
and sugarcanes . 110 Contemporary literary texts like Desinmala 1 ", 
Prayaschittaprakarna n 2 and Grikastharatnakara m mention the knowledge 
involed in the preparation of different kinds of liquors. 

.101. El, X, 99. 

102. Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its Own Historians , 1 1 , 44. 

103. H.C. Ray Choudhary, Dynastic History of Northern India, 11, 1066. 

104. Sachau, Alberuni 's India, I, p. 101. 

105. Subhashitaratnakosha,V, 1312. 

106. Vyas Quoted in Mitakhasara on Yajnavalkya, 3, 263 and 264, p. 1317. 

107. Siddhasarahapada, p. 229. 

108. Harshacharita, pp. 95 and 230. 

109. Agnipurana, 173,21. 

1 1 0. Desinamala, 111,41,45: VIII, 4, 1 , 46, 1 1 , 2, IV, 4, V, 34, VI, 3 5, 4 1 , 5C, 75 and VII, 

111. Prayaschittaparkarna, p. 40; Grihastharatnakara, pp. 393-395. 

112. Ibid. 

113. Ibid. 


Aijaz Ahmad* 

Meos, a brave, freedom-loving and warring community have had a 
glorious history from the ancient times. They could never be made to 
compromise by force or political diplomacy. That's why they were against 
any power or government which tried to over-power or impose their authority 
over this warring community. No doubt, in their so-called freedom struggle, 
they lost their men and money and sometimes their very existence faced the 
threat of being wiped out. It is also true that in their long history there have 
been very few leaders who gave them proper direction for upholding their 
honour, dignity and position. Most of their leaders only took pride in their 
stiff opposition to the government in Delhi as their biggest and greatest 
achievement. It was mainly due to their illiteracy as well as the negligence on 
the part of the government in Delhi that made them rebellious . 1 

In the ancient period they were known as Meds and their stronghold 
was Debal, a famous port of Sindh. They were engaged in agriculture and if 
we believe Elliot and Dowson, many of them were seafarers and pirates . 2 
After they embraced Islam, they were called Meos . 3 At present the area of 
Mewat is very small, and is distributed among different states like Haryana, 
Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. In Haryana, Mewat includes some parts of 
Gurgaon and Faridabad districts. In Rajasthan, it comprises of parts of Alwar 
and Bharatpur. In U.P., it includes some villages of Aligarh and Mathura 
Districts 4 It must not be forgotten that the Meos were a warring community 
and troublesome to the British Government, that's why the government 
cunningly divided the area of Mewat into many parts controlled by various 
administrative authorities. 

‘Lecturer in History, Y.M.D. College Null, Mewat, Haryana. 

1. Wahiduddin Khan, Maulana, Mewat Ka Safar, Delhi, 1988, p. 6 

2. Elliot & Dowson, The History of India as told by its own Historians, Vol. I, Allahabad, 
1969, p. 124 (Hereafter quoted as Elliot & Dowson). 

3. Mewati, Mohammad Habibur Rahman Khan, Tazkira Sufia-i-Mewat, Delhi, 1985, p. 
69 (Hereafter cited as Tazkira). 

4. Abdul Shakoor, Tarikh i-Meo Kshatriya, Delhi, 1975. p. 114. 


The Panjas Past And Present 

April 2007 

When we look at the geographical history of the Meos, we have to 
contend with a large number of traditional sayings and even many Meo scholars 
who claim that their geography consisted of many parts of Arabia, China, 
Central Asia and whole of India. But we can only give this aboriginal 
geographical claim as mere rhetoric and bragging with not an iota of truth 
about it. As the historical evidences prove the Meos can only be traced during 
the ancient period in the region of Sindh in the form of Meds. Another major 
community that lived with them was the Jat community. They both were 
agriculturists in profession and also barbarian in nature. Their rulers were 
Brahman by caste. s When did the Meos migrate to the Indian Arawali Region 
(Koh paya, according to Tabaqat-i-Nasiri) is not very clear. It also cannot be 
said with certainty as to whether they originally inhabited this region. But a 
Meo scholar Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan claims that around second century 
A.D., a group of the Meds of Sindh entered Rajputana and settled around the 
Arawali range and this ar ea came to be known as Med-pat and later on Mewat . 6 
In the light of all such opinions it can safely be concluded that the Meos' 
population around Arawali was also much older. 

James Tod describes that the Mer or Med were a very ancient Hindu 
race . 7 Habibur Rahman, by quoting Chachnama, claims that the Meds were 
followers of Buddhism . 8 Another scholar, Shamsuddin Shams tries to prove 
that the Meos formerly belonged to the Hindu race . 9 But most of the old 
traditions agree with the opinion that before accepting Islam Meos followed 
the Buddhism. No doubt they claim themselves as Rajputs and Kshatriyas by 
origin and they still follow their customs and traditions, but as far as religion 
is concerned, they followed the Buddhist cult. Because in Sindh, the original 
place of the Meos, the rulers and subjects followed the Buddhism. Chach 
(father of Dahir) the ruler of Brahmanabad was a Brahman but was very 
much under the influence of a Buddhist devotee Kirman . 10 After Chach his 
brother Grander ascended the throne and patronized the Buddhist religion and 
monks and promulgated their doctrine." It was the trend at that time that 
when a king patronized and promulgated any religion the subjects also followed 

5. Elliot & Dowson, Vol.-I, p. 124; see also Tazkira, p. 53. 

6. Tazkira, p. 35. 

7. James Tod, Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Delhi 1 97 1 , p. 7 1 7. 

8. Tazkira, p. 53. 

9. Shamsuddin Shams, Meos ' of India, New Delhi, 1 983 . p. 34. 

1 0. Elliot & Dowson, Vol. I, p. 151. 

11. Ibid., p. 153. 

Process of Meos' Conversion To Islam 


the same. From all this it becomes amply evident that the Meds of that region 
must have followed the religion of their rulers. 

The modern Mewat region (Arawali range) was also a stronghold of 
the Meos. Here the Meos might have practised both Hindu and Buddhist 
religions, as they still claim that they are from the Rajput origin. Minas and 
Jats of this region also practised the same customes. 12 All this proves that 
Meds or Meos, Minas and Jats were of the same origin and they separated 
from each other for their social and political interests. Definitely the Meos of 
Mewat practised mostly Hindu religion but it also can not be ignored that the 
last ancient Indian emperor Harshvardhana was a follower of Buddhism and 
he might have left its impact on this region and some of the Meos might have 
followed this religion also. For the Meos it was clear that whatever religion 
they had practised they did not forsake the customs and traditions of their 
forefathers. Actually the Meo community was an amphibious community 
which perhaps practised both Buddhist and Hindu rituals. 

Islam came in India along with Mohammad bin Qasim in 93H or 712 
A.D. At this time the Khalifa was Walid bin Abdul Malik of Ummayyad dynasty. 
This was the golden period of Islam because at that time Islam not only 
spread in India but in Central Asia also. In Central Asia, Tartars and Turks 
were the most famous to accept Islam. 13 While despatching Mohammad bin 
Qasim to Sindh, the governor of Khurasan Hajjaj bin Yousuf gave instructions 
that he would rule the Sindh leniently and have cordial relations with the 
subjects, and the preaching of Islam would also be one of his aim. 14 
Mohammad bin Qasim attacked Sindh, defeated and killed Dahir, the king of 
Sindh, and issued a letter to the chiefs of different parts of Sindh inviting 
them to make submission and embrace Islam. This letter got a favourable 
response and the minister of Dahir, Sisakar came to his side and became 
wazir of Mohammad bin Qasim. Mohammad bin Qasim told him all his secrets, 
always took his advice and consulted him on all civil affairs of the government. 15 
His another trusted Indian follower Maula-i-Islam, Debli preached Islam in 
various parts of Sindh and got a favourable response. 16 

The rule of Mohammad bin Qasim was very lenient and the subjects 
(Meds and Jats) were given freedom to live in their houses in whatever manner 
they liked and worship their gods. 11 But in 715-16 A.D. he was called back 

12. James Tod, p. 789; see also Siddique Ahmad, Mewat Ek Khoj, Delhi, 1997, p. 44. 

13. Tazkira, p. 43. 

14. Ibid., p. 45. 

1 5. Elliot & Dowson, Vol. I, pp. 1 75-1 76. 

16. Tazkira, p. 177. 

1 7. J.L. Mehta, Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India, Vol. I, p. 39. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

and charged of moral turpitude and put to death. Elliot and Dowson, by 
quoting Futuhul Badan of Al-Biladury writes that the people of Hind (Sindh) 
wept for Mohammad bin Qasim. 18 The subjects must have accepted Islam 
because of the lenient and cordial rulers. Because before the invasion of 
Mahmud Ghaznavi there was no trace of the term Malichcha which was 
later on derogatorily given to the Muslims. 19 In 99H. (718 A.D.) the hew 
Khalifa Umar bin Abdul Aziz wrote a letter of Tabligh to Indian Rajas which 
read like this, "You accept Islam, come out of the darkness of idolatory. If 
you will accept Islam then your suzerainty will be intact, your sins will be 
forgiven, you will be treated like other Muslims and you will be accepted as 
our brothers." 20 

As these Princes had already heard about the Khalifa keeping his promises 
and about his character, they accepted Islam and their subjects also followed 
them. Jaisia, the son of Raja Dahir also turned Muslim and took an Arab 
name. 21 Till that time the Meos of Arawali region were still untouched by 
Islam. In 160 H. (779 A.D.), during the time of Khwaja Abu Abdullah, some 
portion of Arawali region was conquered and the Meds came into contact 
with Islam. But the complete Islamic practice was absent from their day to 
day life. After that till 10 12 A.D. the history of Arawali region did not witness 
any Muslim conquest. 22 When Mahmud Ghaznavi invaded India, the conversion 
restarted here at a large scale. His companions were good scholars and 
preachers of Islam who started their work with confidence and got a 
favourable response. Among them the first and foremost preacher was Shaikh 
Abu Shakoor. 23 After him Syed Salar Masood Ghazi 24 continued his work by 
conquest and Tabligh both. 

18. Elliot & Dowson, Vol. I, p. 124. 

19. J.L. Mehta, p. 40, 

20. Tazkira, p. 45; see also Elliot & Dowson, Vol. I, p. 125. 

21. Ibid. 

22. Ibid., p. 45. 

23. Ibid., p. 67. 

24. Syed Salar Masood Ghazi was the son of Satar Ma'ali the sister of Mahmud Ghaznavi. 
His father Sahu bin Ataullah Ghazi was the governor of Ajmer. Salar was bom in405H. 
in Ajmer. He fought many battles with Indian Rajas of Delhi, Kannauj, Kara, Manakpur 
etc. According to the local traditions he owned 989 forts. He was also a reputed Sufi 
saint. His tomb is in Bahraich (U.P.) where both the Hindus and Muslims come to pay 
him respects. In Mewat area also he is loved and respected even today. Till 1960-70, in 
many villages of Mewat, the custom of saluting the flag of Syed Salar Masood Ghazi 
was prevalent. In that custom the Mujawars (servants of Ghazi) used to bring the flag 
and hoisted it in the village Chopal. The children and women devotees offered Nazar- 
o-Neyaz and youths performed military drill. On the third day of the ceremony the 
Mujawars departed along with the flag. Another practice was the worship of flag of 
Syed Salar Ghazi, but due to the influence of the Maulvis and Tabligh movement these 
practices slowly and gradually came to an end. ( Tazkira , pp. 67-68 and 1 80). 

Process of Meos' Conversion To Islam 


Munshi Mohammad Makhdoom Thanavi (a Tahsildar of Tijara in Alwar 
State) writes that when Syed Salar Masood Ghazi arrived in Mewat region, 
five Meo Pals 25 belonging to Rajput Tomar Dynasty accepted Islam. These 
Pals were as follows : 2S 

1. Detrawal or Derwal, 2. Latawat, 3. Ratawat, 4. Balut, 5. Pahat. 

During the reigns of Mohammad Gouri, Aibek and Iltutmish, many 
Meos embraced Islam as a result of the efforts of Khwaja MoinuddinChishti 27 
of Ajmer. His Khanqah was open to both Hindus and Muslims. The Meos 
must have come in contact with this Sufi and embraced Islam like many 
other non-Muslims. Qutbuddin Aibak sent Miran Syed Husain Khang Sawar 
to Mewat and some Meos accepted Islam as a result of his efforts. 28 Munshi 
Mohammad Makhdoom Thanvi writes that at the hands of Miran Syed H usain 
Khang Sawar, seven Pals of the Meos accepted Islam. These were as 
follows : 29 

1. Dehengal, 2. Sengal, 3. Chhirklot, 4. Damrut, 5. Pandlot, 6. Dulot, 
7. Nyai. 

Miran Syed Husain Khang Sawar along with the Meos fought many 
battles with non-Muslims. 30 

It is an undeniable fact that since the very beginning, Meos always 
fought for their independence, whether they were Muslims or non-Muslims, 
they were always rebellious against Delhi rulers, and Mewat was the shelter 
place for the rebellious Sardars of Delhi. They were always a fiercely 
independent people and never permanently accepted the suzerainty of Delhi. 
It is quite clear from the facts and incidents that Mewat was never permanently 

\25. In Hindi Pal means a group or party. These were named after the names of their 
chieftains and predecessors. Many Gotras combine to make a Pal. ( Tarikh-i-Meo 
Kshatriya, p. 250). 

26. Tazkira, p. 70. 

27. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a great saint of that period came to India from Khurasan 
and settled in Ajmer. The tradition has it that before his arrival to India he heard a voice 
while performing Tawaf of Kaaba that he should go to Madina. In Madina Prophet 
appeared to him in his dream and said "the almighty has entrusted the country of India 
to thee. Go there and settle in Ajmer. By God's help the faith of Islam shall, by thy 
piety and that of thy followers, be spread in that land." (Elliot & Dowson, Vol. II, p. 
548; see also Tazkira, p. 69). 

28. Gazetteer of India, Haryana, Distt. Gurgaon, 1983, p. 36. 

29. Tazkira, p. 71. 

30. We still find the graves in most of the villages and cities of Mewat. The most important 
of these graves are of Bhikam Shahid, Ghalib Shahid, Muzaffar Shahid, Khwaja Rukne 
Alam Shahid, Roshan Shahid, Hamid Shahid etc. They still has followers and devotees 
from both the Hindu and Muslim communities ( Tazkira , p. 72). 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

conquered. 31 As this area was very tough for invaders, the first Muslim ruler 
Qutbuddin Aibak sent Hemraj, the son of Prithvi Raj Chauhan to invade Mewat, 
but he was defeated and slain. Then he dispatched Syed Wajihuddin. He was 
also defeated and slain. 32 Wolseley Haig writes that the Meos plundered the 
travellers on the roads, entered the city by night and robbed the inhabitants of 
their belongings. 33 James Tod called them notorious and lawless people. 34 
Minhaj Siraj writes that in Koh-Paya (hill tract of Mewat) near the capital, 
there was a community of obdurate rebels who unceasingly committed highway 
robberies and plundered the property of Musalmans. 35 

In 1259-60 they carried off herds and camels, the property of Vassals 
and loyal followers of Ulugh Khan's (Balban, the wazir of Nasiruddin Mahmud) 
household from the outskirts of the Hansi territory. Their leader was Malka 
(from the Hindu faith). Then Ulugh Khan attacked Mewat and combed them 
under swords for twenty days. 36 When Balban became the ruler of Delhi he 
again massacred the Meos so they would not rose again, and they became 
cordial with the Turks for at least 100 years. 37 In order to strengthen the 
Meos against Balban a Tomar chieftain Balut Meo Kaku Rana reorganized the 
Gotra 3 * and Pal system and redivided the Meos into 13 Pals and 52 Gotras. 
The Meos' rebellious and suspicious nature and urge for independence created 
suspicion and misunderstanding among the Muslim rulers. Even a ruler like 
Aurangzeb did not give much attention to the Meo community. He preferred 
to favour the Hindus who agreed to accept his unquestioning over-lordship 
than Muslims who would claim even insignificant equality on the basis of a 
common religion. 39 

Meos, due to their illiteracy and innocence thought that calling themselves 

31. Gazetteer, p. 37. 

32. Ibid., p. 36. 

33. Welseley Haig, The Cambridge History of India, Vol. Ill, Delhi, 1965, p. 76. 

34. James Tod, p. 717. 

35. Minhajuddin Siraj, Tabakat-i-Nasiri, translation ofH.G. Raverty, Delhi, 1970, p. 850. 

36. Ibid., pp. 850-52. 

37. Mohammad Habib and Khaliq Ahmad Nizami, Diili Sultanate (Hindi tran.) Part-II, 
Delhi, 1978, p. 99. 

38. Gotra is a Sanskrit word meaning common house. It is said that initially when the 
people started settling themselves, they constructed a large common house to protect 
themselves from enemies and wild animals. The common house was named as Gotras 
and inhabitants of that house were considered as people of the same Gotra. ( Tarikh-i - 
Meo Kshatria, p. 245). 

39. Hashim, Amir Ali, The Meos of Mewat, New Delhi, 1967, pp. 33-34. 

Process of Meos' Conversion To Islam 


independent and not accepting the rule of Delhi was their biggest and glorious 
action. On the other hand the rulers of Delhi also, without, knowing the truth 
and removing the misconception, crushed them brutally. 40 If the Delhi rulers 
had tackled them favourably and shown right direction to this brave community, 
they must have proved quite useful for the Delhi rulers and would have also 
changed their rebellious nature and disloyalty. From all these facts it becomes 
quite clear that the Meos did not accept Islam under any compulsion but 
through the teachings of various Sufi saints who were by no means rigid or 
bigoted. They realized the unity of God and also the oneness of mankind. 

We also can not ignore the fact that these Muslim Meos never forgot 
the old customs of their forefathers. They were closer to the Hindus of Mewat 
than to the Muslims of the rest of India. The customs of the Hindus and 
Muslims combined as integral part of the Meos' cultural heritage. Regarding 
this a popular saying is quoted here "JatKya Hindu AurMeo Kya Musalman." 4 ' 
The customs and traditions of the Meos invited the attention of the Muslim 
theologians in the beginning of the 20 th century. They were led by Maulana 
Mohammad Ilyas who started the Tabligh movement in Mewat aiming at 
religious and social purification and uplift of the Meo community in particular 
and to make Muslims in general aware of the true Islam. 

40. Mewat Ka Safar, p. 6. 

41 . Meos of India , p. 36. 


Sukhdev Sharma * 

In the beginning of 19 th century a Sovereign Sikh State was formed in 
Punjab under Ranjit Singh. It was not a sudden development of history but an 
outcome of a long struggle of the Sikhs throughout 1 8 th century against tyranny 
and oppression. After execution of Banda Bahadur in 1716, the Sikhs faced 
persecutions bravely and gave innumerable sacrifices for their existence that 
resulted into their occupation of Punjab. Ranjit Singh united different mis Is 
and carved out an independent state. 

After Ahmed Shah Abdali's exit from The Punjab scene, the Sikhs were 
virtually the master of the region. Unfortunately, the Sikh mis Is who fought 
united against the common enemy (the Afghans) had started fighting among 
themselves for the supremacy in the Punjab. This process of mutual rivalries 
could harm the Sikhs and the Punjab too. There was a need of a strong inner 
spiritual force to unite the mis Is. Baba Sahib Singh Bedi provided this force, 
which saved the nation from breaking into fragments. 1 

The contribution of Baba Sahib Singh Bedi in the formation of Sovereign 
Sikh State was of greater importance. He played an extremely significant role 
in uniting different Sikh misls, resolving their disputes, saving Punjab from 
foreign powers and establishing Ranjit Singh as a leader. He was a fatherly 
figure who shaped, helped, guided and inspired Ranjit Singh. He played a 
decisive role in the early period in the contests of Ranjit Singh with Bhangis 
and other Sikh Chiefs. 2 

The position of Baba Sahib Singh Bedi in the eyes of Ranjit Singh, 
indeed, was unique. A large number of occasions were mentioned by Munshi 
Sohan Lai, on which the Maharaja called on him and offered his obeisance. In 
1817, when the Baba was on a visit to Shahdara, prince Kharak Singh was 
specially commissioned to wait upon him and convey the Maharaja's respectful 

‘Lecturer, Government College, Sector 1 1 , Chandigarh. 

1. Satbir Singh, Shri Hazur Baba Sahib Singh Ji Bedi , (Booklet) translated by Hamam 
Singh Wadhwa, Ludhiana, p. 7. 

2. Fauja Singh, State and Society under Ranjit Singh, Patiala, 1984, p. 381. 

Formation Of Sikh State : Contribution Of Baba Sahib Singh Bedi 43 

regards to him. 3 In 1834, Ranjit Singh wished the Baba 'to honour him with 


the sacred sight.' Baba Sahib Singh Bedi was instrumental in making Ranjit 
Singh to give liberal grants to various Sikh Gurudwaras, particularly to Nankana 
Sahib, Golden Temple and Nanded (Hazoor) Sahib. 5 

Baba Sahib Singh Bedi was the 11th descendant of Guru Nanak. He 
was bom in 1756 at Dera Baba Nanak. He was grandson of Kaladhari, the 
contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh and son of Baba Ajit Singh. His 
headquarter was at Una, 18 miles from Anandpur Sahib, now in Himachal 
Pradesh. The Baba had ideals of Guru Gobind Singh in his mind. He wanted 
to revive the glory of Sikh traditions. He was a saint and a brave soldier, a true 
picture of a Khalsa. He was saviour and conscience keeper of the Sikh nation. 
He tool 'pahul' at Anandpur Sahib and initiated many people into Sikhism. He 
popularised Sikhism in the foot hills of Himachal Pradesh and toured Punjab 
and Kashmir. 6 The Sikhs gathered around him and he raised an army of about 
7000. 7 He fought against tyrannical rule of Malerkotla and Raikot, and also 
helped Ranjit Singh in conquering Kasur and Peshawar. 

Sahib Singh Bedi had cherished desire to establish Khalsa Raj in Punjab 
on the principle of equality, in which there would be no such thing as a king 
and a subject. To keep Punjab free from foreign influence, unity among warring 
factions of Sikhs under one banner was necessary. The Baba had found the 
qualities of an appropriate political Sikh leader in Ranjit Singh, who could 
fulfill his desire of establishing Khalsa Raj . 8 

After the death of Mahan Singh, the father of Ranjit Singh, in 1792, 
Baba Sahib Singh Bedi went to Gujranwala, the head-quarters of Sukerchakia 
mis l on the invitation of Raj Kaur, the mother of Ranjit Singh. He performed 
last ardas (prayer) of Mahan Singh and also performed the ceremony of 
Dastar Bandi (bearing turban) of young Ranjit Singh. He blessed Ranjit Singh 
and foiled the conspiracy of the Bhangis against Ranjit Singh who wanted to 
eliminate Ranjit Singh owing to their family enmity with the Sukerchakias. 9 

In September 1794, Jodh Singh Wazirabadi invaded Ranjit Singh. On 
the request of Ranjit Singh, Baba Sahib Singh Bedi reached Amritsar. When 
Jodh Singh Wazirabadi came to know about the Baba's help to Ranjit Singh, 

.3. Ibid, p. 284. 

4. Sohan Lai Suri, Umdat-ut-Tawaakh, Daftar III, New Delhi, 1961, p. 202. 

5. Balwinder Pal Singh, Baba Sahib Singh Ji Una Sahib (Punjabi), Jalandhar, 1995, pp. 38-39. 

6. Ishar Singh Nara, Raja Yogi Baba Sahib Singh Ji Bedi (Punjabi), Jalandhar, 200 1 , p. 34. 

7. Griffin Sir Leppel Henry, The Rajas of the Punjab, Delhi, 1977, p. 79. 

8. Satbir Singh, op. cit., p. 37. 

9. Balwinder Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 37. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

he retired. Ranjit Singh reached Amritsar and as a token of respect gave an 
Arbi horse, a sum of Rs. 5000/- and the jagir of Chappral to the Baba. 10 

Ranjit Singh in coalition with his mother-in-law Sada Kaur and Jodh 
Singh Kalsia sieged the fort of Miani, the stronghold of Jassa Singh Ramgarhia 
near Beas in 1796. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, an old seasoned General, was 
ailing. The coalition could not make much success. Ramgarhia approached 
Baba Sahib Singh Bedi to intervene. The Baba reached Miani and asked Ranjit 
Singh to lift the siege for which Ranjit Singh and Jodh Singh Kalsia agreed but 
Sada Kaur continued the siege for sometime more. Later on Sada Kaur also 
followed Babaji's direction. She went to Mansuran near Ludhiana where the 
Baba was staying and begged for his pardon. She offered Rs. 2100/- and the 
area of Udhowal to the Baba as a token of respect." Thus Baba's intervention 
prevented the clash between Ranjit Singh and Jassa Singh P^amgarhia which 
could harm the Sikh unity. 

The more serious crisis for the Sikh nation arose in 1 798 when Zaman 
Shah, grandson of Ahmed Shah Abdali, marched to Punjab and reached Lahore 
on November 27. In view of the perilous national situation, Baba Sahib Singh 
Bedi convened a meeting of Sarbat Khalsa at Amritsar 12 to assess the situation 
and find out the way to face the threat of foreign invasion. A large number of 
Sikhs and their leaders participated in the meeting of the Sarbat Khalsa. The 
prominent Sikh leaders who participated were : Ranjit Singh Sukerchakia, 
Jodh Singh Wazirabadi, Bhag Singh Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Sada 
Kaur Kanahiya, Sahib Singh Bhangi, Hari Singh Bhangi, Budh Singh Singhpuria 
and Bhag Singh Dallewalia. 13 A joint coalition was formed to obstruct the 
progress of Zaman Shah. The Sikhs at that time were not in a position to have 
direct confrontation with the Afghans. So, they chalked out a strategy. They 
divided themselves into two groups, one group under Ranjit Singh alongwith 
Sada Kaur, Jodh Singh Wazirabadi, Bhag Singh Ahluwalia and Tara Singh 
was to adopt guerilla war tactics near Lahore, whereas the other group, under 
Sahib Singh Bedi alongwith Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Baghel Singh and Budh 
Singh was to protect Amritsar. 14 Sahib Singh Bedi and Jassa Singh Ramgarhia 
played an important role in defending Amritsar. They repulsed the Afghan 
invasion on it. 15 On the other hand, Ranjit Singh, who was creating problem 

10. Bhai ShobhaRam, Gurbilas Baba Sahib Singh Bedi, (Punjabi), Patiala, 1988, p. 539. 

11. Ibid., p. 559. 

12. Ganesh Dass, Char Bagh-I-Punjab (Punjabi), Patiala, 1983, p. 135. 

13. BalwinderPal Singh, op. cit. , p. 48. 

14. Ibid., p. 49. 

15. Prithipal Singh Kapoor, Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia (Punjabi), Ludhiana, 1975, 
p. 117. 

Formation Of Sikh State : Contribution Of Baba Sahib Singh Bedi 45 

for Zaman Shah through guerilla war, one day fired some rounds from the 
Saman Burj of Lahore fort and challenged Zaman Shah in these words, "O 
grandson of Ahmed Shah Abdali! Here is the grandson of Sardar Charat Singh. 
Come out and cross steel with me." There was no response from inside and 
Ranjit Singh returned but not without stamp of valour. 16 

When military action could not succeed, Zaman Shah opened diplomatic 
channel. His motive was to create disunity among the Sikh Sardars and to 
control Punjab. He sent his emissaries to influence the Sikh Sardars with the 
message that he was prepared to hand over the Viceroyalty of Punjab to the 
Sikhs. 17 Many Sikh leaders showed their willingness to accept the offer. Ranjit 
Singh's representative in Lahore negotiated with Zaman Shah for the subedari 
of Lahore. 18 Just when it seemed that the Afghan diplomacy had succeeded in 
breaking the Sikh unity, a saviour appeared in the person of Sahib Singh Bedi, 
who by virtue of his descent from Guru Nanak and his age enjoyed the status 
of father of the Sikhs. He pleaded Sardars to stop negotiations with Afghans 
and said, "The Khalsa never begs, he conquers with the might. Where is your 
self-respect? The Khalsa belongs to the Supreme One and begs from none 
other." 19 When Zaman Shah's emissary approached Sahib Singh Bedi, he said 
on behalf of all Sikh Sardars, "Tell Zaman Shah that this land belongs to us. 
He should retreat to his own land. We have conquered Punjab with the sword 
and we will protect it with its might too." 20 When Zaman Shah heard this, he 
was quite agitated and threatened to teach the Sikhs a lesson. He had to go 
back soon as his brother Mehmud created problem at home in Afghanistan. 
The Sikhs unitedly continued to face the Afghan threat and ultimately killed 
Zaman Shah's Commander Shahanchi Khan. 21 Thus the Baba saved the dignity 
of the Sikhs as well as of the Punjab from the evil designs of Zaman Shah. 

Another foreigner, an English adventurer, George Thomas had created 
a small state of his own in Punjab with its headquarters at Hansi. He had 
helped Rai Alyas of Raikot in 1798 against Sahib Singh Bedi. In 1800, he rode 
upto the Sutlej with just 5000 men and 60 cannons. It was a great threat to 
the Sikh Sardars. They sought help from General Perron, the French General, 
who in the beginning was in the service of the Marathas. He demanded a part 

16. Sohan Lai Suri, op, cit., Daftar II, p. 39. 

17. Satbir Singh, op. cit., p. 9. 

1 8. Khushwant Singh, Ranjit Singh — Maharaja of the Punjab , New Delhi, 1 985, p. 36. 

19. Satbir Singh, op. cit., p. 9. 

20. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 36. 

21. BalwinderPal Singh, op. cit., p. 51. 


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of Punjab in lieu of his help to the Sikhs against George Thomas. The Sikh 
Sardars were thinking positively on the demand of General Perron. When this 
news reached Baba Sahib Singh Bedi, he stopped the Sikh Sardars from taking 
such a step and asked them to rely on their own strength, 'united we stand' 22 , 
saying this, he urged the Sikhs to resist both Thomas and Perron. Again the 
Baba saved Punjab from foreign influence. 

Ranjit Singh's occupation of Lahore in 1799, after making the Bhangis 
to leave the city, could not be tolerated so easily by them. Sahib Singh Bhangi 
of Gujrat and Dal Singh of Akalgarh got together and planned to attack 
Gujranwala while Ranjit Singh was away to Jammu. 23 Ranjit Singh, 
accompanied by Sada Kaur, led ten thousand soldiers to invade Gujrat. 24 Baba 
Sahib Singh Bedi saw again a danger to the Sikh unity. He hurried to Gujrat 
and there in the name of the Guru ordered both the parties to lay down their 
arms. Such was the prestige of this man that the Sardars obeyed without 
demur. 25 Sohan Lai gives a graphic account of the scene, "The Exalted One 
(Ranjit Singh) untied his sword from his waist and placed it on the ground 
before Baba Sahib Singh Bedi — the other Sardars did the same. For an hour 
the swords lay on the ground. The Sardars remained silent. Then the Baba 
tied the sword round the waist of the Exalted One and said that within a short 
time all his opponents would be extirpated and his rule would be established 
throughout the country. 26 Thus the Baba saved the Panth by intervening into 
the fight of Sikh Sardars which could endanger the Sikh unity. 

The most significant contribution of Baba Sahib Singh Bedi was to 
stamp Sikh unity under one banner by declaring Ranjit Singh, a sole leader of 
the Sikhs. A grand Darbar was organized on the Baisakhi day, Sunday, April 
12, 1801 at Lahore, in which many Sikh Sardars and prominent citizens 
participated. After performing certain Sikh rites, Baba Sahib Singh Bedi anointed 
tilak (mark) of saffron paste on the forehead of Ranjit Singh and declared 
him the leader of the Khalsa. Ranjit Singh assumed the title of sarkar-a-wala. 
This was the first occasion when the title of sarkar was conferred on any 
Sikh chief. 27 The Baba instructed Ranjit Singh to remain a humble Sikh, not to 
sit on the throne and not to call himself Maharaja. 28 

22. Satbir Singh, op. cit., p. 10. 

23. Fauja Singh, op. cit., p. 9. 

24. Bhagat Singh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and His Times , New Delhi, p. 35. 

25. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 44. 

26. Ibid. 

27. Bhagat Singh, op. c//.,p. 35. 

28. Balwinder Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 55. 

Formation Of Sikh State : Contribution Of Baba Sahib Sinoh Bedi 47 

It is clear that the function organized on the Baisakhi day in 1801 was 
observed on the basis of Sikh traditions, where the concept of monarch was 
not there. Moreover Ranjit Singh by assuming kingship at that time did not 
want to aggravate the jealousy of other Sikh Chiefs. 29 Simply he took the 
leadership of the Khalsa and took pride in being called Singh Sahib. He got 
his personal seal engraved with the words 'Akal Sahai Ranjit Singh' like that 
of an ordinary Sardar. It was more in the nature of a supreme leadership of 
the Khalsa than in the nature of monarchy. 30 Declaration of Ranjit Singh as 
leader of the Sikhs by the revered and fatherly Baba Sahib Singh Bedi ended 
the struggle for power among the Sikh Sardars, strengthened the position of 
Ranjit Singh and made him consolidate his power further. 

Ranjit Singh after assuming the leadership of the Sikhs, showed his 
gratitude towards Baba Sahib Singh Bedi by introducing coins in the name of 
Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, from whose family the Baba had 
descended. The coins were known as Nanak Shahi Rupiya and Nanak Shahi 
Paisa. 31 On the one side of the coins Guru Nanak with Mardana was inscribed 
and on the other side 'Shri Guru Nanak Ji Sahai' was written in Gurumukhi in 
Persian script. 

The policy of Ranjit Singh towards the Sikh misls was an outcome of 
Sahib Singh Bedi's thinking who wanted to bring all misls under the influence 
of Ranjit Singh. The stronger misls were to be befriended and the weaker 
ones were to be brought under control by force. Fateh Singh Ahluwalia was 
a strong misldar. So the Baba asked Ranjit Singh to make him his friend. As a 
result, there was a meeting between Ranjit Singh and Fateh Singh Ahluwalia 
at Tam-Taran in May, 1802 where both exchanged turbans as a token of 
friendship. 32 

By 1808, Ranjit Singh had subdued almost all the Sikh misls. He wanted 
to bring cis-Sutlej states under his control so that he could claim to be the 
leader of the whole Sikh nation. He had undertaken two cis-Sutlej expeditions 
in 1806 and 1807 'to mould the increasing Sikh nation into a well ordered 
state or commonwealth as Gobind had developed a sect into a people'. 33 The 
alarmed rulers of cis-Sutlej states met Seton, the British resident at Delhi, for 
the British protection in March, 1808, who did not respond immediately. 

29. Faqir Syed Waheeduddin, The Real Ranjit Singh, New Delhi, 1976, p. 67. 

30. Fauja Singh, op. cit., p. 38. 

31. Bhagat Singh, op. cit., p. 36. 

32. Fauja Singh, op. cit., p. 10. 

33. Cunningham, J.D., History of the Sikhs, London, 1849, p. 134. 


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Ranjit Singh began the third cis-Sutlej expedition in September, 1808, and 
influenced the Malwa states. Ranjit Singh asked the rulers of these states not 
to seek help from the British, as he was not a threat to their sovereignty. A 
meeting of cis-Sutlej states and Ranjit Singh was arranged at Lakhnaur, near 
Patiala, in November, 1808 where Sahib Singh Bedi mediated. Sahib Singh, 
Maharaja of Patiala, was reluctant to participate but when he came to know 
that Sahib Singh Bedi had come there, he agreed to negotiate. 34 In the presence 
of Baba Sahib Singh Bedi the Raja of Patiala exchanged turban with Ranjit 
Singh and each gave to the other a written agreement of friendship. 35 Both the 
parties agreed to honour each other's sovereignty and to live in Khalsa Raj. 
The Baba established unity of all Sikh states and saved Punjab from disruption. 36 
His presence there invested the agreement with a sacred character. 

The British did not like the rapprochement between cis-Sutlej states 
and Ranjit Singh. They considered that in the exchanging of turbans, 'Sahib 
Singh of Patiala was not a free agent, the measure was promoted by the 
exortion of Badee Saheb Singh, the Sikh Gooroo or priest.' 37 Later the British 
won over the cis-Sutlej states to their side by bringing them under their 
protection. Here Baba Bedi's move to unifying all the Sikh states under the 
Khalsa Raj, and to keep the British influence far away from the Punjab got a 

Baba Sahib Singh Bedi was not happy with Ranjit Singh when he 
concluded the treaty of Amritsar ( 1 809) with the British, as it became permanent 
hinderance in the path of Sikh unify. However, Baba's support to Ranjit-Singh 
in consolidating Sikh Raj continued. He remained helpful in resolving the 
differences of Ranjit Singh with his prominent Sardars. Amir Singh 
Sandhewalia, whose Jagirs were confiscated by Ranjit Singh on the instigation 
of the Dogras, came to the Baba. In 1815, the Baba arranged a meeting 
between Ranjit Singh and Sandhewalia after which Ranjit Singh restored the 
earlier position of Amir Singh Sandhewalia. 38 Akali Phoola Singh, who did not 
like Ranjit Singh's nearness to the British, the Dogras and appointments of 
foreigners in the army, in protest left Amritsar for Anandpur Sahib where 
Partap Singh, Prince of Jind, after developing differences with Ranjit Singh 

34. Faqir Syed Waheeduddin, op. cit., p. 77. 

35. Sinha, N.K., Ranjit Singh, Calcutta, 1933, p. 26. 

36. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 84. 

37. Letter from Seton to Edmonstone dated 3 rd December, 1808, Ahluwalia, M.L., (ed.) 
British India Foreign Policy Series, Vol. II, New Delhi, 1982, p. 331. 

38. Balwinder Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 66. 

Formation Of Sikh State : Contribution Of Baba Sahib Singh Bedi 49 

had joined the Akali leader. The atmosphere became so polluted that there was 

a fear of war. Ranjit Singh sought the help of Baba Sahib Singh to resolve his 

differences with Akali Phoola Singh. The Baba helped Ranjit Singh in making 

Maharaja's rapprochement with the Akali leader. 39 Again when Fateh Singh 

Ahluwalia crossed the Sutlej after differences with Ranjit Singh, the Baba 

helped both the old friends to reach an agreement in 1825. 40 

Baba Sahib Singh Bedi died in 1834 at Una. It was a great setback to the 

Maharaja who considered him as a fatherly figure. He termed his demise as 

an irreparable ioss to the Khalsa Raj. 

Baba Sahib Singh Bedi was a religious leader, a saint, a brave soldier 

and a statesman. He was revered by all the Sikh Sardars who followed his 

advice. He helped Ranjit Singh to lead the Sikh nation, avoid the internal 

confrontations of the Sikh misls and direct the Sikh Sardars to keep unity so 

that foreign influence could be kept away from the Punjab. It was his 

intervention, which desisted Sikh Sardars from internal struggle, resolved 

their disputes and made them to stand unitedly under the leadership of Ranjit 

Singh. His efforts to establish Sovereign Sikh State and later to help its 

preservation under Ranjit Singh were immensely important. 

39. Ibid., pp. 68-69. 

40. Ibid. p. 75. 


Kulwinder Singh Bajwa* 

Amongst the English source materials on the early 19 th century Punjab, 
European Travel Literature occupies a very significant place. Not less than 
half a dozen European travellers visited the Kingdom of Lahore between 1 820- 
39. Their interests varied as their nationalities. Their evidences relate to many 
facets of life in the Kingdom of Lahore. However, this paper attempts to 
comprehend their observations on the agrarian economy of the early 19 th 
century Punjab. 

No doubt, the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Lahore pursued several 
trades as a means of subsistence, yet their mainstay was agriculture. The 
bulk of the population constituted of the peasantry. It was composed of all 
the three communities : the Muslims, the Hindus and the Sikhs. Amongst 
them, the Jats were predominant. 1 However, Doab Bist-Jalandhar, Majha tract 
in the Upper Bari Doab were well populated and richly cultivated. The Rachna, 
the Chaj and the Sind Sagar Doabs had less land under cultivation but these 
were rich in vegetation, minerals and animals. 2 Extensive pastures along the 
river banks, in the mountains and sub-montane regions, were not less valuable 
than the tilled land; as these supported numerous herds of cattle and thereby 

* Reader, Department of Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala. 

1 . Alexander Bumes, Travels into Bokhara : Being the Account of a Journey from India to 
Cabool, Tartary and Persia ; also, Narrative of a voyage on the Indus from sea to 
Lahore, 3 Vols., O.U.P. Karachi (4th ed.) 1973 (hereafter Travels), I, 3-4. 

2. Bumes, Ibid, 1, 3, 14, 43, 49, 50, 56, 68; II, 288, 299, 396-97; III, 175-76, 181, 298-99, 
307; B.C. Huge!, Travels in Kashmir and the Punjab containing a particular account of 
the Government and character of the Sikhs, Language Department, Punjab, Patiala 
1970 (reprint - first pub. 1845), (hereafter Travels) 27-28, 62; V. Jacquemont, Letters 
from India, describing a Journey in the British Dominions of India, Tibet, Lahore and 
Cashmeer During the Years 1829-31, under the Order of the French Government, 2 
Vols., Edward Churton, London 1 834 (hereafter Letters), I, 384. 

Early Nineteenth Century Agrarian Economy Of The Punjab... 


provided subsistence to a considerable portion of its population . 3 

Agriculturists of the Kingdom of Lahore produced food grains, pulses, 
oil seeds as well as cash crops; vegetables and fruits included. Wheat, barley, 
maize, millet, rice were the food grains. Grams, mung, mash, masar, moth, 
rajmah were included in the pulses. Amongst the oil seeds, rape, mustard, 
linseed, seesame etc. were important . 4 Rice was largely raised in the sub- 
montane regions and in the vales of Kashmir. In Kashmir, it formed the staple 
crop, for three fourth of the cultivated land was under rice cultivation. A 
superior quality of rice, known as bara rice was produced around the river 
Bara in Peshawar . 5 

Cane thrived well in all the doabs , 6 cotton was raised at many places, 
but it was chiefly grown in the doab Bist-Jalandhar and on the skirts of the 
mountains . 7 Tobacco was cultivated in many places in Bist-Jalandhar, Bari 
and Rachna doabs. But the produce of Multan and Kashmir was of a good 
quality . 8 Saffron was raised in Kashmir, the town of Pampur was famous for 
its quality product . 9 Indigo was reared in Multan and eastwards of Lahore. 
Vigne observed wild indigo around Mansa Bal and the Wular lake in Kashmir .' 0 
Opium was largely raised in Kulu and Dera Fateh Khan." Hugel noted the 
cultivation of ginger and turmeric, exported largely to China . 12 

Vegetable culture too was well known to the farmers. Almost all the 
eastern varieties of vegetables were produced extensively such as pumpkins, 

3. W. Moorcroft, Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Punjab : In 
Ladakh and Kashmir. In Peshawar, Kabul, Kunduz and Bokhara from 1819 to 1825, 
Language Department Punjab, Patiala 1970 (reprint-first pub. 1837), (hereafter Travels), 
49, 94, 344, 407; G.T. Vigne, Travels in Kashmir, Ladakh, Iskardo, the countries 
Adjoining the Mountain Course of the Indus and the Himalyas, North of the Punjab, 2 
Vols., Henry Colburn, London 1842 (hereafter Travels), 1, 210, 301; II, 68, 149, 1 69; 
Bumes, Ibid, I, 10-1 1; II, 289; III, 287, 298-99. 

4. Bumes, Ibid., 1, 402-03; II, 325-26; III, 298-99, 326; W. Moorcroft, Ibid., 53, 54, 328, 
348, 357, 360, 471; Vigne, Ibid, 1, 311. 

5. Hugel, Ibid, 33-34, 86, 98, 1 79; Vigne, Ibid., 1, 308-09; W. Moorcroft, Ibid., 348, 446; 
Bumes, Ibid.,\\, 321-325. 

6. Moorcroft, Ibid., 53; Bumes, Ibid., 1, 43-44, 402; II 325; III, 303. 

7. Vigne, Ibid., II, 187; Bumes, Ibid, II, 400; Moorcroft, Ibid., 85, 451, 459. 

8. Bumes, Ibid, I, 403; III, 130, 304; Moorcroft, Ibid., 53. 

9. Vigne, Ibid., 1, 204; II, 33-34, 459; Hugel, Ibid, 125; Moorcroft, Ibid., 359, 41 2. 

10. Bumes, Ibid, I, 402; III, 303; Vigne, Ibid, II, 148, 198. 

1 1. Charles Masson, Narrative of various Journeys in Beluchistan, Afghanistan and the 
Punjab, including a residence in those countries from 1828 to 1838, Rich and Bentley, 
London 1842, 3 Vols. (hereafter Journeys), I, 37; Moorcroft, Ibid., 85. 

12. Hugel, Ibid, 205-06; Vigne, Ibid., II, 187. 


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April 2007 

turnips, carrot, spinach, potatoes, cucumber, lettuce, melon, water-melon 
etc . 13 The floating gardens in the lakes of Kashmir received special attention 
of William Moorcroft and G.T. Vigne. These were a good source of income 
to the peasants as well as to the state, for these were heavily taxed. 14 Sinhara 
(watemut) produced in the lakes of Kashmir gave average return, as estimated 
by Moorcroft in 1 823, from 96 to 1, 20, 000 ass loads. It yielded Rs. 1,00,000 
a year to the state as revenue. 15 The stem of the Nymhea louts supported 
nearly 5,000 persons for eight months in Kashmir alone. 16 Besides, rivers, 
lakes and ponds provided fish as a food to the wealthy and a source of 
income to the poorer. 17 

The plantation of orchards was not out of practice in the hills, as in the 
plains. The horticulturists of the Kingdom of Lahore produced mangoes, 
oranges, banana, fig, jaman, lemon, guava, jamboo, bair, greengage, dates, 
apples, pomegranates, peaches, apricots, walnuts, quinces, pear, grapes, 
almond, cherries, plum, melberries, horse-chest nut, edible pine etc. 18 About 
eighteen or twenty varieties of grapes were cultivated in Kashmir; the best 
were originally brought from Yarkand. The plains of Kamraj in the province 
of Kashmir produced the best quality of apples. 19 Four varieties of walnuts 
were grown. Besides eating, its oil was used for cooking and burning in 
lamps. Oil-cakes prepared from its oil were given to cattle as feed. Its husk 
furnished black and green tints to dyers. Apart from the nuts eaten by men, 
the oil and oil-cakes yielded Rs. 1,13,000 a year to the province of Kashmir. 20 
Sericulture and flowery culture too was practised. 21 

The animal wealth of the Kingdom of Lahore was immense. Extensive 
pastures along the river banks and on the skirts of the mountains supported 
numerous herds of cattle of the pastoral tribes, such as gujars, chanpanpalals, 
gulubans etc. Besides, the settled peasantry too was engaged in rearing animals. 

13. Bumes, Ibid, I, 402; II, 325-26; III, 122-123; Moorcroft, Ibid, 334, 348, 353-54; 
Vigne, Ibid., II, 91; Masson, Journeys, 1, 415; Hugel, Ibid, 144, 347. 

14. Moorcroft, Ibid, 338, 353-54; Vigne, Ibid, II, 62, 90-91. 

15. Vigne, Ibid., II, 115, 156; Moorcroft, Ibid, 345, 350, 403, 404, 433, 434. 

16. Jacquemont, Ibid, II, 77; Moorcroft, Ibid., 351; Vigne, Ibid, II, 89, 114, 115. 

17. Jacquemont, Ibid., II, 147; Moorcroft, Ibid, 404; Vigne, Ibid, 1, 156, 178, 207; II, 115-17. 

18. Bumes, Ibid., 1,41-42,73,95, 113; II, 324-25, 403; III, 81, 120, 282, 304, 308; Moorcroft, 
Ibid, 88,98, 107-08, 1 10-1 1, 1 77, 305, 358, 406, 409, 410; Jacquemont, Ibid., 11,41,60, 
146; Vigne, Ibid. 1, 151, 204-05; II, 24, 32, 62, 69, 70,86,87, 100, 104, 109, 113, 161, 
162, 168, 207, 213, 397-98; Hugel, Ibid., 36-37, 81; Masson, Ibid. 1, 414-15. 

19. Moorcroft, Ibid., 358; Vigne, Ibid., II, 86-161. 

20. Vigne, Ibid., II, 168; Moorcroft, Ibid., 355-57. 

21. Vigne, Ibid., II, 121-22; Moorcroft, Ibid., 357-61. 

Early Nineteenth Century Agrarian. Economy Of The Punjab... 53 

Buffalo ws, cows, bullocks, sheep, goats, camels, horses and mares of superior 
description were found in abundance. 22 The land of Majha (a tract between 
the river Ravi and Beas), was celebrated for horses. The Dhani horse was 
well esteemed as its oxen. Mules reared on the banks of Jehlum were strong 
and capable of bearing great burden; while the camel on the southern parts of 
the Punjab were equally serviceable. Moorcroft observed excellent broad mares 
in the valley of Jaswal in the hills. 23 Besides, sheep and goats were reared in 
plenty in the hills as also in the plains. Wild goats too were in abundance in the 
forest which yielded fine shawl wool. 24 However, the profession of animal 
rearing not only provided subsistance to a good number of families by selling 
milk and ghee, but also to a considerable portion of the population directly or 
indirectly engaged in the leather industry, as in selling flesh for food. 25 

Poultry, and bee-farming too were being pursued by the farmers as a 
means of subsistance. William Moorcroft gives us a very detailed account of 
these trades being practised by the Kashmiris. However, neither he nor any 
other traveller under discussion gives any information about this profession 
being pursued in other parts of the Kingdom of Lahore. The fact that after the 
famine of 1 833, when poultry perished in the valley, Col. Mian Singh imported 
it from the Punjab to start this pursuit afresh, suggests that this trade was 
well known to the Punjabis too. The best quality of poultry was being reared 
in the valley of Lotab in Kashmir. The practice of capon too was known. 26 
Like poultry, it was the general practice of the farmers of Kashmir to have 
several lives in a house. Moorcroft was all praise for the Kashmiri method of 
bee-keeping. He even suggested its imitation in Europe. However, 1 the return 
was less than an ordinary yield of a good swarm in England. Also, the Kashmiris 
were ignorant of using it as the basis of fermented liquor. It was sold at the 
price of about three pence a pound but was considerably dearer. 27 

Although, forestry was not a part of agriculture yet it was a good source 
of income for villagers. Besides wood and fodder for their cattle, several 
kinds of wild greens, herbs and fruits were collected by the inhabitants living 
near these forests. For instance, the inhabitants of the Parganas ofLar, Kohima, 

22. Moorcroft, Ibid., 49, 94, 344, 407; Vigne, Ibid, I, 210, 301; II, 68, 149, 169; Bumes, 

- Ibid, I, 10-1 1; II, 289; III, 287, 298-99. , 

23. Moorcroft, Ibid . , 49; Bumes, Ibid., 1, 11; II, 289. 

24. Hugel, Travels, 227, 240; Vigne, Ibid., I, 206-07, 209; II, 14-15, 189-90; Moorcroft, 
Ibid., 49, 100. 

25. Vigne, Ibid., II, 141, 149, 169; Moorcroft, Ibid., 359, 395, 407i 445. 

26. Moorcroft, Ibid., 409. 

27. Ibid, 361-365. 


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Kamraj, Bankil and Lotab, in the province of Kashmir, collected roots of Kuth 
or costus which were exported to Amritsar. The drug was sent to Calcutta 
for export to China. Its annual export to the Punjab was worth about Rs. 16, 
500. 28 Similarly, morels, a sort of mushroom grown in the hills of Kashmir, 
used as a vegetable and for medicinal purpose, was an article of import to the 
Punjab. 29 

None of the travellers under discussion have raised the question of 
proprietory rights in land in the Punjab. However, W. Moorcroft, who visited 
the province of Kashmir soon after its annexation to the Kingdom of Lahore, 
did raise this issue. He asserted that 'from time out of mind', the land belonged 
to the ruler of the valley. 30 As a corolleiy of this system, the status of the 
cultivators appears to be as those of the 'occupancy tenants'. A cultivator 
used to pay two shares of his produce; one as a rent and the other for the 
protection, the ruler afforded to him. G.T. Vigne's observations, who visited 
this province in the 1840's, does not differ materially from W. Moorcroft. 
For instance, his reference to the fifty percent of the produce as a share of 
the Maharaja appears to be an equal division between the owner and the 
cultivator, and the other one-fourth, as a share of the state in lieu of the 
protection afforded to the cultivator. 31 Nevertheless, the presumption of these 
travellers does not withstand the fact. For we learn from other sources that 
some rights were granted to the villagers to get benefits from pastures, forests, 
pathways, burial, cremation grounds etc. 32 

In terms of operation and implements, the agriculture of the Kingdom 
of Lahore remained largely medieval; but it was not primitive. The impliments 
were simple but not crude. 33 Organic fertilizer was used. In Kashmir, besides 
manuring the field, the quality of the soil was improved by the distribution of 

28. Ibid., 344,361. 

29. Vigne, Ibid., 1, 335. 

30. Moorcroft, Ibid., 344, 361. 

3 1 . Vigne says that 'out of hundred kharwan fifty were set apart for the Maharaja, twelve 
and a half more were taken as Governor's prerogative, out of the remaining thirty seven 
and a half, the cultivator had to pay other cesses due to the persons connected with 
revenue machinery' : Ibid., 1, 31 1 . 

32. Moorcroft, Ibid., 344; Also, on the authority of Tarikh-i-Kalan, D.C. Sharma affirms 
that the sale of residential plots was allowed in the city of Kashmir. A tax known as 
Qazia was levied on land transaction at the rate of one rupee for the state, and two annas as 
a fee of the Patwari, Did this right exist in other nine Kashas of the valley during the Sikh 
rule, is not known. But it is certain that proprietory rights were granted by Maharaja Hari 
Singh. Kashmir Under the Sikhs, SeemaPublication, Delhi 1983, 146, fn 257. 

33. Bumes, Ibid., 1, 44; Vigne, Ibid., 1, 309; Hugel, Ibid., 58. 

Early Nineteenth Century Agrarian Economy Of The Punjab... 55 

clods of fresh earth. 34 Besides rain, irrigation was done by streams, springs, 
canals cut from the rivers, wells, jhalars etc. 35 Two sets of harvest were 
gathered in a year : the rabi crop, sown in October-November and reaped in 
April-May, and the Kharif sown in June-July, and reaped in September- 
October. Rotation of crops and double cropping was practised. Attempts 
were made to introduce better varities by importing seeds from other regions. 
Similarly, quality of fruits was improved through engrafting. 36 

To ensure the extention of the cultivation, several kinds of incentives 
were provided to the agriculturists. Measures taken in the Kashmir province 
after its conquest well illustrate the attitude of the ruler towards the peasantry. 
Zamindari system was done away with and so was the baggar. A peasant and 
a headman was treated alike; each one was individually answerable to the 
state for the expected return. 37 No trukee was charged for the first year in the 
case of Pahikishti land 38 from those who brought new land under cultivation. 
From second year, it was charged at the rate of two tarks instead of four, the 
usual rate. After the famine of 1 833, the revenue officials were asked to tour 
the valley at the time of sowing each cropland prepare a fresh list of the 
houses and peasants. The seed for sowing and grain corresponding to the 
requirement of the peasants, till the crops were ready for harvest, were 
distributed. This seasonal help or takavi as it was known, chargeable at the 
time of harvest was given directly to the cultivators and not through the 
muqaddams. Furthermore, terms of extra demands were withdrawn ; even 
the rate of trukee was reduced from five to four tarks. Infact, the exactions 
as regulated by the state were 'mild' and according to productivity of the soil 
as of the capacity of the cultivators to pay. For instance, in the province of 
Kashmir, in all the state demand amounted to 7/8 in the case of Sarkishti and 
3/4 in the case of Pahikishti land. 39 In Multan, the cultivators paid 1/3 of the 

34. Moorcroft, Ibid., 349; Vigne, Ibid., 1, 309. 

35. Bumes, Ibid, 1, 9-10, 43, 70; II, 323, 289; III, 108-09, 120, 121-22, 175-76, 287, 306; 
Vigne, Ibid., 1, 230, 350, 406-08; Moorcroft, Ibid., 25, 92, 350, 406, 408, 410, 417, 471; 
Hugel, Ibid, 62, 196,227. 

36. Moorcroft, Ibid., 350, 354. 

37. Vigne, Ibid., I, 30; Moorcroft, Ibid. , 344. 

38. Pahikishti was a land more remote from the city, near the city it was termed as Sarkishti ; 
Trukee was a sort of interest on the advance of grain which was provided to the farmers 
to over come famine conditions during the governorship of Raja Sukhjeevan Mai (1753- 
62). Tark was a sort measure equal to six seer. Hugel, Ibid., 109; Vagne, Ibid., 1, 322; 
Moorcroft, Ibid., 344. 

39. Bumes, Ibid., Ill, 298; Moorcroft, Ibid., 344, 405; Vigne, Ibid., I, 310-11; Jacquemont 
and Soltykoff, The Punjab : A Hundred Years Ago (ed. H.L.O. Garrett), Language 
Department Punjab, Patiala 1971 (hereafter Journal). 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

gross produce. 40 To encourage the producers of grapes, the Maharaja lifted 
ban on the making of wine in Kashmir. 41 

Several agro-based industries of various magnitude were being supported 
with raw material by the peasants. For instance, cotton cloth of various texture 
was manufactured at several places in the Kingdom of Lahore. In face, every 
village, particularly in the plains, produced some cotton for its consumption. 
The Punjabis were not only self-dependent in their needs for cotton cloth, but 
also exported it to distant countries. 42 Manufacturing of leather goods, 
particularly saddlery, was an important occupation. 43 Grapes were consumed 
in making brandy, wine, vinegar and raisin. 44 Sugar was extracted from 
sugarcane. 45 Oil was extracted from walnut kernels, linseed, rape, seasame, 
mustard etc. 46 Rose water was distilled and scent was made from various 
flowers. 47 The Kashmiris made paper from wild hemp and reed. The baskets 
were made from the twigs of willows. Mats were made from the reed, plumes 
were made from heron's feather etc. 48 Besides, wood industry was an important 
industry. 49 

Trade in agro-products was surely an insentive to the farmers. In the 
1830s, Alexander Bumes noted a transit trade of coarse white cloth from the 
Punjab, at Dera Ismail Khan, as 3000 camel-loads or 1,800,000 yard annually. 
Hoshiarpuri fine muslin of white colour was sent to Delhi and white and red 
to Jaipur and Bikaner. 50 Cotton of the Punjab was 'well fitted for the China 
market too'. 51 Sugar and indigo were exported to Bokhara and other Muslim 
countries. Bumes refers to the export of indigo, from Dera Ghazi Khan to the 

40. Masson, Ibid., I, 39§. 

41. Moorcroft, Jbid., I, 358-59. 

42. Bumes, Ibid., II, 399, 400, 401, 405-07, 415, 419, 434-35; III, 111, 159; Moorcroft, 
Ibid., 51, 85, 360; Masson, Ibid., I, 99; Jacquemont, Journal, 84. 

43. Moorcroft, op. cit., 395-96. 

44. Bumes, Ibid., II, 409; Hugel, 298; Moorcroft, op. cit., 51, 358-59; Jacquemont, Journal, 
57; Letters , II, 64-65; Vigne, 1, 332; II, 102, 109-11. 

45. Burnes, op. cit,, I, 402; II, 402. 

46. Bumes, op. cit., Moorcroft, Ibid., 348, 357. 

47. Moorcroft, Ibid., 357; Vigne, II, 121-22, 

48. Jacquemont, Letters, II, 30, 80, 1 48; Journal, 691; Vigne, Ibid., II, 102, 115-121, 306-07; 
Moorcroft, Ibid., 118, 397, 41 1; Hugel, Ibid., 292. 

49. Moorcroft, Ibid, 51, 66, 369-70, 449; Vigne, Ibid., II, 122-23, 179, 460; Bumes, Ibid., 
II, 289; III, 128-29, 178-79, 184, 302, 305-06; also, Cabool, 327-28, 368. 

50. Bumes, Ibid., II, 399-401, 405,407, 416, 419, 434-35; III, 1 1 1, 293-94; also Cabool, 
81-93; Moorcroft, Ibid., 51, 85. 

51. Vigne, Ibid., II, 457. 

Early Nineteenth Century Agrarian Economy Of The Punjab... 57 

west, as 2000 maunds in the year 1837. 52 Hill districts were supplied with 
coarse, dhintz, blankets, cotton cloths from the Punjab plains and were paid 
with opium- and musk at Kulu. 53 From Kashmir, walnut oil, saffron, grapes, 
roots of kuth, caraway seeds, tobacco, bed musk, bihidana, banafsa, black 
jeera, hill poney and ghee were exported to the plains of the Punjab, Tibet, 
Ladakh, British India and China. 54 Besides, timber was imported in large 
quantity from the hills. 55 

The information provided by the travellers is descriptive in nature. It 
does not cover all aspects of agrarian economy. For instance, no specific 
information on land tenure, revenue administration, proprietory rights in land 
in the Punjab etc. is available in this literature. However, the observations of 
these travellers suggest that pattern of economy remained medieval. There 
was no shift in cropping pattern from food stuffs to cash crops. Proportion 
of land given to food grains was larger than the cash crops. For example in- 
die province of Kashmir Shali (rice) occupied 3/4 of the cultivable land. 56 
Similarly, the Punjab produced more grain than it was consumed by its 
inhabitants. 57 Nevertheless, the production of fruits too was increasing. 
Moorcroft observed that acre-wise yield of walnut was much larger than any 
portion of Europe. 58 

However, the lack of critical approach in the observations of these 
travellers can be explained, to some extent, in varied interests as reflected in 
their evidence on economy. For example, Moorcroft, Vigne, Hugel and 
Jacquemont are more concerned about the condition of the peasants in the 
province of Kashmir. The wages and working conditions of the workers are 
also underlined. They are more critical about the oppressive policy of the 
Kingdom of Lahore. On the other hand, Bumes is more concerned about the 
Punjab. He is critical about the insufficient irrigational facilities' prevalent at 
that time. Vigne and Moorcroft show keen interest in sericulture and flowery 
culture. Amongst all the travellers, Moorcroft covers almost all these fields of 
economy discussed by these travellers. He even discusses the management 

52. Bumes, Ibid., II, 167, 435-36; also Cabool, 83. 

53. Moorcroft, Ibid., 13, 85, 102. 

54. Moorcroft, Ibid., 179, 259, 316, 388. 

55. Vigne, Ibid., I, 196-97, 217, 218; II, 345, Jacquemont, Ibid., 1, 263; also Journal, 29; 
Bumes, Ibid., II, 289-90; III, 128, 302; Moorcroft, Ibid., 361, 365, 373, 387, 405. 

56. Vigne, Ibid., 1, 309. 

57. Bumes, Ibid., Ill, 298-99. 

58. Moorcroft, Ibid., 358. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

of poultry and bee-farming in Kashmir. 

All European travellers, under discussion, are unanimous in condemning 
the Sikh rule in the valley of Kashmir as oppressive and tyrannous. They feel 
that too much extortion caused the impoverishment of the peasantry leading 
no alternative but flight to the neighbouring states in search of less oppressive 
masters. This resulted in the scarcity of population causing thereby the fall of 
the cultivable land. Consequently, the land revenue decreased considerably. 

But the criticism does not confirm to the reality. Even the information 
provided by these travellers contain contradictions. With regard to the plight 
of the peasantry in Kashmir as a oppressive policy, the picture that we have is 
altogether different. The flight of the peasants was not due to the oppression 
alone; the exactions were carried to a certain point. 59 Also, the administration 
of the Sikhs was not so bad as compared to those of Afghans. The low return 
of the revenue appears to be the result of the withdrawl of certain cesses 
after the famine of 1 833 . Above all, it was the natural calamities like earthquake, 
famine and cholera which reduced the population to one fourth of its former 
number. 60 The average monthly expenses of a cultivator’s household in 
Kashmir in the 1840s suggest that their condition was quite satisfactory. 61 As 
regards to the Punjab, both Bumes and Masson are of the view that peasantry 

59. For instance, Hugel writing towards the end of the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh 
described the State Policy as, 'the exactions are carried to a certain point, and if they 
exceed this, the people emigrate and the land is left uncultivated. Hence the inhabitants, 
although never meeting with indulgent forbearance, have their capabilities of endurance 
estimated by the selfish economy of their masters as a driver takes care not to lay a 
heavier burden on his beast than he thinks it able to carry": Ibid., 405; Also Bumes, 
Ibid, 111,298. 

60. In the 1 820s, Moorcroft estimated the population of the valley at 8,00,000. Hugel, who 
visited the valley three years after the famine of 1833, gives the figures at 2,00,000. 
Moorcroft, Ibid., 328, 330, 341, 343, 344, 345, 346, 406, 408, 409, 436, 440, 442; Vigne 
Ibid., 1, 308, 3 1 0, 3 1 1 ; II, 3 1 8; Hugel, 'Visit to the Valley of Kashmir 1 , Journal of Asiatic 
Society of Bengal, V. 185; Jacquemont, Journal, 65, 66, 70, 79, 82; Also, Letters, II, 58, 
76, 87. 

61. In the 1840s, the average monthly expenses of a family was about two Hari Singh 
rupees (2sh. 8d), whereas the household expenditure of the Punjabi counterpart was 
about three large rupees (6 sh.). The daily wages of the agricultural labourer were about 
8 seers (12 lbs) of paddy. After meeting the daily requirements of the members of his 
family, he could save the rice worth one anna a day or about two rupees (2 sh. 8d.) a 
month. Vigne, Ibid. , II, pp. 120-21. 

Early Nineteenth Century Agrarian Economy Of The Punjab... 59 

was in 'a most prosperous condition '. 62 

However, the contradiction indicates that the travellers' approach to the 
economic conditions of the period under discussion was partial. Even their 
emphasis on the traditional aspects of the economy and to prove that it was 
but a continuation of the earlier economic conditions also suggests their lack 
of seriousness. Nevertheless, by now we have enough contemporary literature, 
other than these sources, which suggest that inspite of the dominance of 
traditional features and lack of any innovation and change of great magnitude, 
the economy of the period did not remain the same. It had its own distinct 

62. Bumes, Ibid., Ill, 298; Masson, Ibid., 1, 30, 398. 



B.L. Mehta * 

Shimla, presently the capital of Himachal Pradesh was the summer 
capital of the Raj and the provincial government of Punjab. It was also the 
headquarters of the Indian army during colonial rule. Shimla is situated 3 1 ° 6' 
north latitude and 77° 10' east longitude on a range that is part of the 
mountainous middle Himalayas which forms the vast transverse of the Central 
Himalaya. Its mean elevation is 7, 100 feet above the sea level.' 

Shimla had its origin in a small village located on a transverse spur in 
the northern hills. The British connection with this area dates back to the 
Anglo-Gurkha war of 1815. It was initially developed as a hill station by the 
British because of its strategic position. The British retained certain areas in 
the surrounding hills as military posts. Cantonments were established at kasauli, 
Dagshai, Subathu and Jutogh. 2 

The first mention of Shimla, middle-sized village, came in 1817 from 
the diary of two Scottish officers, Lieutenant Patrick and Alexander Gerald 
who were surveying the area at that time. The first residential building was 
constructed by Lieutenant Ross, who was then the Political Agent for the 
Shimla Hill States in 1 8 19. 3 Although his house was a mere thatched wooden 
cottage. It marked the beginning of European settlement in Shimla. Thereafter, 
many British officials built houses here. 'Kennedy House', built by Captain 
Charles Pratt Kennedy in 1822, was the first pucca house. Subsequently, the 
settlement of Europeans at Shimla started increasing. In order to. establish a 
sanatorium in Shimla, negotiations were held in 1830 by Kennedy with two 

* Associate Professor, Deptt. of History, I.C.D.E.O.L. Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla-5. 

1. Edward J. Buck, Simla: Past and Present, Delhi, 1904, (rpt.), 1979, p. 1. 

2. The area retained by the British for strategic reason included Kotgarh, Kotkhai, Bharauli, 
Shimla, Dagshai, Jutogh, Sabhathu, Sanawar, Solan, Kasauli, Rawin and Dandi, see 
Punjab District Gazetteer, 1904, Vol. VIII A, Lahore, 1908, pp. 12-17. 

3. Edward J. Buck, Simla: Past and Present, p. 6. 

Some Aspects of municipal Development... 


rulers — the Rana of Keonthal and Maharaja of Patiala. The purpose of these 
negotiations was to exchange the area of Shimla with Company held land. 4 

The importance of Shimla increased considerably after 1864. John 
Lawrence, the Governer General, made it the summer capital. He moved to 
Shimla in summer with 484 personnel including secretarial staff, clerks and 
servants. 5 The motive behind this move was mainly to keep a close eye on 
Punjab and the North-Western Frontier. The aim, as the British perceived it, 
was also to guard the frontier against Russian expansionist policy. The British, 
therefore, also established the army headquarters and cantonment at Shimla. 
Climatic suitability was yet another reason. The Punjab Government, too, 
made Shimla its capital in 1 876. Thus the urban settlement grew rapidly from 
a mere 30 houses in 1830 to 100 in 1841. Thereafter, it grew from 240 in 
1 866 to 1 , 1 4 1 in 1 887 and 1 ,400 in 1 904. 6 Since the population and settlements 
in Shimla were increasing at a fast rate year after year, the colonial rulers 
realized that better amenities and efficient local administration was required. 
There was a pressing need for a local government that could effectively 
address the problems of sanitation, water, maintenance of roads and public 
institutions. This paper proposes to explore and explain the historical process 
that led to the establishment of the Shimla Municipal Committee. 

The Shimla Municipal Committee, one of the oldest in Punjab, was first 
constituted on 15 December 1851 under the provisions of Act XXVI of 1850. 
Under this Act, the Government of any province was given the powers to set 
up a municipal committee in any town where it was satisfied that the inhabitants 
of the town wanted one. Government was, in that case, authorized to appoint 
the magistrate and the requisite number of local inhabitants on the municipal 
committee. 7 The Act also conferred upon the committee large powers for 

4. In 1 830, Major Kennedy, the Political Agent, negotiated with the Rana of Keonthal for 
his possession of the Shimla hill, comprising the thirteen villages such as Pandhare, 
Dumhee, Sarran Fagli, Dulna, Kyar, Bannowino Pugaoo, Dirwin, Khumley, 
Khullyan, Khimmey and Khullyar and yielding an estimated revenue of Rs. 937, 
making over to Rana the parganah of Rawin, yielding an annual revenue of Rs. 1 ,289. 
A possession of retained parganah of Bharauli consisted of villages such as Dharoti, 
Dharoi, Kalawan was at the same time made over to the Maharaja of Patiala to exchange 
for the position of Shimla which was included in his territory and which consisted of 
the villages such as Kainthu, Phugony, Chewing and Aindari yielding an estimated 
revenue of Rs. 245 per annum. See E.G. Wace, Report on the Revenue Assessment of 
Ilaqas, Kotkhai, Katguru end Simla, Lahore, 1883, p. XLI. 

5. Home Public, File No. 41-47, 15December 1864 (National Archives of India). 

6. Edward Buck, Simla.: Past and Present, p. 76. 

7. Pamela Kanwar, Imperial Shimla: The Political Culture of the Raj, Delhi, 1 990, p. 1 05. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

making civic regulations and levy taxes. At the outset, therefore, it was 
dominated and controlled by the Government and no elected element was 
introduced. Even the municipal commissioners were government officials 
who framed a code of local rules and regulations. 

The dominance of government officials in the Shimla Municipal 
Committee (hereafter referred as MC) was resented by many house owners. 
Thirty-six house-owners of Shimla submitted a memorandum to the 
Government in this regard. 8 Consequently, it was agreed that the MC should 
be elected by house-owners. The Deputy Commissioner was to be its ex- 
officio President. Thus, it was against the background of the protest of the 
house-owners that an elected element was introduced in the MC in 1 855. The 
first election was held on 20 August 1855. 9 In 1864, three more ex-officio 
members — an Executive Commissioner, Medical Officer and Senior 
Commissioner — were nominated to represent the interest of Government. 10 
In 1871, Shimla was given the status of a first class municipality by Act XV 
of 1867. Though the Act provided financial autonomy to the MC, subject to 
Government audit, the powers to suspend and limit its functions, as well as to 
cancel the proceedings and to remove members when necessary, rested with 
the Government. 11 This Act remained in operation till its revision by the Punjab 
Municipal Act XIV of 1 873. The new Act introduced no material constitutional 
change, except that two-fifths of the members of the committee were to be 
non-officials. There were, at that time, nineteen members, of whom seven 
were officials and twelve were non-officials. Of twelve non-official members, 
three were nominated by Government and the remaining nine members were 
elected by the house proprietors of Shimla of which two were Indian house- 
owners. The franchise of election was confined to house-owners. Proprietors 
of houses with an estimated yearly rental of Rs. 300 had one vote. A house 
rented at anything above 2,000 and below 5,000 carried two votes, and above 
Rs. 5,000 and below 10,000 had four votes. 12 A peculiar feature of the MC 
constitution was that a member failing to attend two consecutive meetings of 

8. Ibid. 

9. Ibid. 

1 0. Punjab District Gazetteers , Shimla District, Vol . VII, Part B, Shiml a District Statistical 
Tables, Lahore, 1936. 

1 1 . B.B. Mishra, The Administrative History of India, 1843-1947, Dc Ihi, 1970, p. 599; 
see also Harpreet Kaur, Administration of Municipal Corporation in India, Delhi, 1992, 
p. 124. 

12. Punjab District Gazetteer, Shimla District, 1904, pp. 124-125. 

Some Aspects of municipal Development... 


the committee without valid reason, ipso facto, vacated his seat. 

There was considerable resentment against the MC constitution as it 
did not represent the interests of house-owners. An agitation against the 
unrepresentative character of the constitution was launched by Allan Octavian 
Hume in 1881. He organized a meeting of house-owners at Benmore and 
constituted the House-Owners Association. The Association presented a 
memorandum to the Government, criticizing the functioning of the committee. 
He also protested against the by-laws which interfered with the rights of 
private house-owners and strongly supported a fully elected municipality. To 
achieve this goal A.O. Hume organized a 'reform committee' of which he was 
the Secretary. 13 As a result for the pressure exerted by A.O. Hume and the 
House-Owners Association, the new Punjab Municipal Committee Act XIII 
of 1884 came into force on 2 October 1884. Under this Act, there were to be 
thirteen elected members of the MC. The Municipal town was divided into 
two wards: the Station and Bazaar wards. The Station ward returned ten 
European members and the Bazaar ward elected three native members. Under 
ordinary circumstances all these members were elected by tax-payers. The 
committee members elected the President and Vice-President from amongst 
themselves. 14 

Members of the committee had a three year term, but one-third of them 
were to retire each year. All voters had to be residents of Shimla for at least 
five months. Government officials were allowed to contest the municipal 
election, but could be removed if they failed to perform their duty properly. 
Under this Act, the election of the MC was held in 1883. A.O. Hume was 
elected the Vice-President and James Walker, a wealthy banker, the President 
of the MC. 15 In 1900, after a gap of seven years, the number of elected seats 
were reduced to five. In 1908, the constitution of the MC was changed once 
again. The elected municipality was abolished, and all the seven members of 
the MC were to be nominated. This constitution remained in force till 1920. 
In the same year, the demand for the election of an MC was raised by the 
Indian House-Owners and Tax-Payers Association. 16 

The agitation against the unrepresentative character of the MC w^s 
spearheaded by Harish Chandra, the President of the House-Owners 
Association. Against the background of his agitation, the constitution of the 


13. Pamela Kanwar, Imperial Shimla, p. 107 

14. Ibid. 

15. Ibid. 

16. Ibid 

1 . 8 ! 


O .9! 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

MC was once again changed. The new constitution provided for ten 
members : three ex-officio members (Deputy Commissioner, Health Officer 
and Executive Engineer); four elected members — two of whom were to be 
nominated by Government of India, and two were to be elected from the 
Station and Bazaar wards of Shimla; and three were to be nominated. The 
election was held in September 1923. This new constitution remained in force 
till 1936.' 7 After that year no election to the MC was held till 1 964. Thus, the 
MC of Shimla passed through several processes of reconstitution till 
independence. Moreover, it never became a truly democratic institution. Even 
when the Government, half-heartedly, introduced an elected element in the 
MC, it failed to democratize it. The strength of the Government nominees on 
the MC was far more than that of the elected members. Thus the MC remained 
an appendage of the Government and served its interests rather than becoming 
a representative local body. 

In so far as the actual functioning of the MC is concerned, it is relevant 
to point out that the Shimla MC did not have any clear cut by-laws till 1891. 
In the same year, it framed its by-laws. These dealt with regulating the 
slaughter of animals, sale of food and defining the committee's control over 
disorderly houses. After 1891, building schemes had to be submitted to the 
MC. However, there is little evidence to suggest that its officials actually paid 
much attention to such matters. In 1892-93, by-laws were made with regard 
to the prevention of fire, forbidding the excessive storage of petroleum, 
regulation of traffic, inspection and regulation of slaughter houses, licensing 
of porters, job-houses, ponies, rickshaws, Jhampanis, stables and cow houses. 18 

Shimla MC administration was quite evidently structured in a way that 
suited the needs of the colonial rulers. There appears to have been no regular 
Secretary until Horace Boileau Goad was appointed. The work was done for 
a few years by the Assistant Commissioner of the district. Goad served the 
Shimla Municipality in an honorary capacity for three years, and later as a 
paid Secretary. For 17 years, from 1877 until his retirement in 1895, the 
Secretary exercised general control over the whole municipal establishment. 
With the approval of President, he also had wide powers to appoint, dismiss 
or reduce subordinate employees. 19 The Municipality had various 
departments — the tax and octroi department, which earned the major income; 

17. 'Letter from Sardari Lai, Secretary, Municipal Committee to Deputy Commissioner, 
Shimla, 29 April 1949' in B. No. 156, File No. 1739, 1890, p. 91 (Himachal Pradesh 
State Archives (HPSA). 

18. For detailed study of by-laws of Municipal Committee see Act of XX of 1891 in 
Municipal Committee Proceedings, Vol. VI. 1 893, pp. 1 to 34. (Hereafter MC Proceedings). 

19. Gazetteer of Shimla District, 1888-89, p. 1 12. 

Some Aspects of municipal Development... 


a Medical Officer, who was incharge of the medical department and managed 
Ripon Hospital and dispensaries; and a Public Health Officer who was 
concerned with conservancy, registration of births and deaths, the market 
and slaughter houses. A public works department — managed by an Engineer 
of Roads and Buildings and assisted by a staff of supervisors, overseer, building 
inspectors and draftsman — maintained buildings, roads and supervised street 
watering. Another municipal engineer looked after the water works and 
drainage. The Municipality added an electrical department in 1914. Lastly 
there was an education department of which the Seeretaiy was ex-officio 

The financial position of the MC seems to have been quite sound from 
its inception Shimla was one of the most highly taxed towns of northern 
India. In 1870, the burden of municipal taxes per head stood at Rs. 7,8 anna 
and 0 paisa as against Calcutta (Rs. 7-11-4) and Bombay (Rs. 4-6-4). The 
average tax burden in the Punjab towns was Rs. 1-1-0. Over the years, the 
residents of this hill station continued to pay higher tax rates than their 
counterparts in metropolitan cities. The incidence of taxes rose from Rs. 10- 
2-1 per head in 1893-94 to Rs. 10-14-9 in 1894-95, Rs. 11-9-1 in 1895-96 
and Rs. 12-4-4 in 1896-97. This may have been due to the rise of population 
in Shimla. In 1914, its per capita tax was Rs. 15-2-0, while Mussourie ranked 
second with Rs. 10-1-3 and Darjeeling third (Rs. 8-6-0). 20 

A comparison with the towns of the Punjab may be relevant here. The 
towns of the Jullundhar division, in which the average incidence calculated 
on the town population only exceeded one rupee, were Fazilka Rs. 1-12-6; 
DharmsalaRs. l-8-9;HoshiarpurRs. 1-6-5; Ludhiana Rs. 1-5-3 and Ferozepur 
1-3-6. 21 In most towns the fall in the income had been accompanied by a fall 
in average incidence of taxation. Dalhousie was the most heavily taxed town 
in Lahore division. There the average incidence of taxation on the population 
as given by the Census of 1891 was Rs. 6-4-10 per head. 22 The MC raised its 
income from various sources. Among these were the different types of taxes 
and levies like octroi, fines, registration fee of birth and death, registration fee 
of dogs, revenue from medical institutions, licence fees, interest on investment, 
rents from Municipal lands, forests and shops and several others. 

In 1877, the income of the MC was Rs. 56,500. This was derived from 
land, houses, octroi, jampanis and horses, pedlars, cattle, town sweeping, 

20. B. No. 1 6, File No. 1 80, 1 896, (HPSA). 

21. 1 bid 

22. Ibid. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

sale of garden produce, sale of wood, rents and fees and fines. 23 A report, 
submitted by the Extension Committee of 1 877, recommended that the income 
of the MC should be increased from Rs. 56,500 to Rs. one lakh by imposing 
additional taxes such as ground tax, rent, house taxes, tax on houses beyond 
municipal limits, visitor's tax, conservancy tax and rent on new buildings. 24 
The report further recommended the abolition of tax on Jampanis and the 
peddler and sweeping taxes. Consequently, on the implementation of Extension 
Committee's Report of 1 877, these taxes were abolished and the new taxes 
recommended by the Report were implemented. 25 In 1896-97, income from 
taxation was Rs. 8,008 — of which Rs. 4,962 was from tax on 'houses and 
land'. 26 As compared to other taxes, the house-tax was better administered. In 
the same year, several houses, whose value had risen owing to improvement, 
were reassessed and a number of new buildings were assessed for the first 
time. 27 The house-tax at the rate of 3 per cent on the assessed rent was 
introduced by the MC in 1855. In 1900, the house-tax was extended even to 
those buildings in the bazaar which were already paying frontage tax. 28 In 
1903 the house-tax was increased to 10 per cent on the annual rent of all 
houses. Thereafter, the house-tax remained the same till 1947. 29 The total tax 
collected on vehicles and animals was Rs. 1 095 and that on servants amounted 
to Rs. 1 ,95 1 . According to the then President of the MC, 'There were more 
servants in Shimla during 1896-97 than in previous years, and presumably 
this implies that the number of visitors was larger also.' 30 In 1903-04, the 
income of the MC went up to Rs. 5,33, 166. 31 

Despite the increase in the income of the MC, its administrative affairs 
and accounting practices came in for much criticism. The Audit Report of 
1903 pointed out that 'the house and ground taxes were found in an exceedingly 
unsatisfactory condition. The register was neither totalled nor closed. It was 
not signed by the Secretary or any other officer, and never appears to have 
come under responsible scrutiny. There was no complete map of the 
Municipality showing the land and houses situated within municipality limits 










'Report of Extension Committee 1877', B. No. 103, File No. 7, 1877, p. 3 1, (HPSA). 


B. No. 16, File No. 180, 1 896-97, p. 23. (HPSA). 


Punjab District Gazetteer, Shimla District, 1904, p. 125. 

B. No. 16, File No. 180, 1896-97, p. 24. (HPSA). 


Some Aspects of municipal Development... 


nor any authentic list of houses'. 32 Octroi formed the other major source of 
municipal income. Octroi was first levied in 1872. It replaced the trade tax 
that the MC had continued to levy till the same year. The collection of octroi 
was advertised for auction, and the term of contract was to be from 1 August 
1873 to 31 March 1874. A revised and more extensive octroi schedule was 
sanctioned by the Punjab Government in the years 1880, 1 894 and 1902. The 
octroi receipts rose from Rs. 46,830 in 1881-82 to Rs. 97,083 in 1900-01, 
while the total receipts from taxation rose in the same period from Rs. 1 ,32,294 
to Rs. 2,36, 382. 33 Though an important source of income of the MC, octroi 
was also the main source of acrimony between the trading community and 
Government. In 1871, Government of India and Punjab Government 
establishments were exempted from paying octroi on all items they imported. 
The Municipal Committee in its Annual Report commented that 'though the 
presence of these government establishments greatly increased the local burden, 
yet they do not bear their fair share of taxation with other rent payers, being 
wholly exempted from Octroi charges'. 34 

Subsequently, octroi for the Viceregal establishment was compounded 
for an annual charge of Rs. 150, and the Punjab Governor's and Commander- 
in-Chief s residences at Rs. 25 per annum each. For a quarter century, British 
tradesmen agitated against the exemption of the official establishments from 
octroi. They accused influential government officials of evading octroi by 
importing items directly from England by post. As a result, all European and 
prominent native salesmen were allowed to import goods without payment of 
duty on the condition that they submitted invoices on receipt of goods. 35 

Thus in order to defray the expenses, the real burden of taxation and of 
raising funds was felt by the common masses. A tax was levied on vehicles 
drawn by men, horses and mules. Therefore, the burden was ultimately passed 
on to mule drivers, rickshaw pullers, chaudhries who maintained vehicles, 
and to the owners of animals. For instance, the tax on rickshaws was fixed at 
Rs. 8 each, tax on animals used for riding was fixed at Rs, 4 each and tax on 
dogs Rs. 3 for the first dog, Rs. 8 for two dogs, Rs. 15 for three dogs and 
Rs. 10 for each dog in excess of three. 36 In 1890, the tax on animals and 
vehicles amounted to 3 per cent of total income, and servant tax amounted to 
4 per cent of total income of the MC. Additional sources of income were the 

32. 'Audit Report of 1903' in B. No. 122, File No. 1422, 1903-04, p. 4 (HPSA). 

33. Punjab Gazetteer, Shimla District, 1904, p. 1256. 

34. Pamela Kanwar, Imperial Shimla, p. 111. 

35. Punjab Gazetteer, Shimla District, 1904, p. 126. 

36. 'Letter from President Municipal Committee to Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, 10 
February 1897', MC Proceedings, 1897, Vol. VIII. p. 2. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

1, 150 acres of forest attached to the Municipality, and the rent realized from 
buildings such as the theatre attached to the town and market. 37 Besides this, 
the MC possessed landed property comprising forests, orchards (at Seog) 
nurseries and the gardens and Gymkhana Club ground at Armadale. All these 
together brought in a total annual profit in cash and kind of Rs. 13, 000. 38 

Unlike other municipalities of India, the Shimla MC had to perform 
multifarious functions. The main functions of MC at that time were : 

1 . Public work was the primary duty. This included the repair 
of old roads and construction of new ones, water supply, street 
lightening and the maintenance of parks. 

2. Public health included conservancy, street watering, 
prevention against all epidemics, control over dispensaries 
and hospitals. 

3. Public safety included the fire brigade and maintenance of 
law and order. 

4. Education. 

Implementation of all the welfare schemes involved huge expenditure 
and proper planning. General administration was one of the important items 
of expenditure which the MC had to meet in order to carry out its functions 
effectively. For carrying out the proper functions of the MC, efficient staff, 
in adequate number, was required. The staff helped the MC in the realization 
of dues, taxes and other outstanding municipal levies. An efficient 
administration would naturally help in the execution of policies more smoothly 
and effectively. The cost of general administration was the main head of MC 
expenditure. This ranged from 56 to 74 per cent of its total expenditure. 
However, the amount spent under this head fluctuated between 1859 and 
1947. The expenditure on general administration during the year 1895-96 
was 11.91 per cent. In 1905-06 it rose to 16.67 per cent, and in 1921-22 it 
decreased by 3.99 per cent. But this again increased in 1929-30 by 4.42 per 
cent and in 1946-47, it was 11.74 per cent. 39 The main reason for the rise in 
the quantum of expenditure may be attributed to an increase in the municipal 
staff, rise in force level and consequently higher pay scales and allowances to 
municipal employees. 

37. Ibid. 

38. Ibid 

39. 'Accounts of ShimlaMunicipality', B. No. 127, File No. 1490to 1494,andB.No. 128, 
FileNo. 1496 to 1499 and B. No. 129,FileNo. 1500 to 1 502 (HPSA); See also Punjab 
District Gazetteers, Vol. VI, Part B., Shimla District Statistical Tables, 1936. 

Some Aspects of municipal Development... 


During this period, the other important public works on which the 
Committee had to spend considerable sums of money were the construction 
of the Town Hall and Ripon Hospital. The Town Hall of Shimla was built 
between 1885 and 1888. Its planning was initiated in 1883 by the elected 
MC, Irwin, the Architect and Superintendent of Works of the Shimla Imperial 
Circle was requested to gratuitously design the building within the budget. 
F.B. Hebbert, Executive Engineer of the Shimla Imperial Circle, was deputed 
to assist the municipality and to supervise, in a general way, the Town Hall 
project in his leisure. Hebbert was co-opted as member of the Town Hall sub- 
committee in October 1884. The public works department sub-engineer was 
appointed as the clerk of the works. The estimates of expenditure involved 
drawn up were grossly inaccurate since they were made on the basis of 
incomplete drawings. Nevertheless, construction began on 22 October 1 884, 
even before the working plans were completed or the sub soils tested. 40 The 
cost of its construction was met partly by a loan of Rs. 1,75,000 obtained 
from the Government of India and partly by a loan of Rs. 1 ,50,000 raised in 
the open market. Another loan of Rs. 25,000 was granted by the Government 
of India in 1886 for the building. 41 

In the same year, a sub-committee consisting of A.O. Hume, James 
Walker, Banjamin Franklin, the Surgeon, R.G. Macdonald was given the overall 
responsibility of construction. The Town Hall, planned in 1884, was finally 
completed by the summer of 1 885. It provided accommodation for the MC 
and its office. In addition to this, it also housed a theatre, an assembly room, 
a public library, and a masonic hall. The sound financial position of the MC is 
indicated by the fact that it was successful in repaying the loan that it had 
raised. The loan raised for its construction in the open market was repaid in 
three installments of Rs. 50,000 each in 1892, 1898 and 1902. 42 For this 
purpose a sinking fund was instituted and yearly a sum was set apart towards 
repayment of the loan. 

Unfortunately, the new building had major structural faults. In 1902, 
longitudinal cracks in the concrete vaulting and an inward movement of the 
walls were noticed by the Committee. The reason for the cracks in the walls 
was attributed to the designing of the trusses. Hence, it became necessary to 
dismantle a part of the building. By 1911, the cracks had widened further. 

40. Pamela Kanwar, Imperial Shimla, p. 113. 

41. 'Letter from President, Municipal Committee to Deputy Commissioner, dated 28' h 
February 1897' MC Proceedings, Vol. Ill, 1883-1887, p. 1 (HPSA). 

42. MC Proceedings, Vol IX, 1896-1898, pp. 3-5, (HPSA). 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

These were traced to the use of a soft friable calcareoes rock which was 
unsuitable as building stone. In order to ascertain the total damage to the 
building a committee of experts was set up in 1912. It made three 
recommendations. The first was the dismantling of the upper floors. The 
second required that a temporary roof be installed above the theatres, and 
finally that no part of the existing structure be incorporated in the new buildings 
since the trusses could not be strengthened. 43 A.A. Begg, the Consulting 
Architect of the Government of India, rejected any plans to reconstruct the 
dismantled storey. The new Municipal office, which exists today, was 
constructed later but the old dismantled Town Hall was preserved as the 
Gaiety Theatre. 

The fear of oriental disease was an important consideration of the British 
administrators, when they moved away from the plains and into the hills. It 
was an important function of the MC to take particular care to monitor the 
spread of disease and the health of the people. For this, the MC had to maintain 
some hospitals and dispensaries and arrange other welfare activities. Therefore, 
the MC had to undertake huge expenditure on what it called social welfare 
activities. Expenditure on public health and medical activities was about 20 
per cent of the total budget. 44 Before the construction of Ripon Hospital, 
there was only one charitable dispensary in the Lower Bazaar. It contained 
only 25 beds and these were insufficient for the population of Shimla that 
was increasing rapidly. 45 Thus the need was felt to construct a hospital that 
could meet the demand of the growing population of town. The plan to 
construct Ripon Hospital was mooted in 1 863, but remained in the dustbin till 
1882. It was only when A.O. Huge became the Vice-President of the MC in 
1882, that he took an initiative in reviving the old plan. He also involved Lord 
Ripon, the Viceroy, in this scheme. The foundation stone for the hospital was 
laid in October 1882. The cost of construction was met partly by donations 
made by the Rajas of Patiala, Dholpur, Jodhpur, Kotah, Travancore, 
Darbhanga, Kashmir and Bahawalpur and partly by funds from Government. 

In the beginning there was friction between the MC and Government 
over its construction. Out of Rs. 1,47,000 required for its construction, 
Government of India and Punjab Government contributed only Rs. 30,000. 
The rest of the expenditure was meted out by the MC. 46 Secondly, a conflict 
between the MC and Government of Punjab arose when the Deputy 

43. Pamela Kanwar, Imperial Shimla, pp. 1 14-15. 

44. Punjab Gazetteer, Shimla District, 1 904, p. 117. 

45. Ibid. 

46. Pamela Kanwar, Imperial Shimla, p. 1 1 6. 

Some Aspects of municipal Development... 


Commissioner of Shimla blamed the MC for sanctioning construction rates 
higher than the estimate. Despite such clashes, the building was completed in 
three years and declared open by Lord Dufferin on 1 4 May 1 885 . All patients, 
Europeans and Natives, were treated in Ripon Hospital. In 1886, permanent 
accommodation for indoor patients was 58 beds, but by adding an extra bed to 
each ward, the accommodation was extended to .68 patients. 47 Rippon Hospital 
was Hume's last service to Shimla before his resignation from the MC in July 
1 884. In 1 888, he declined to be life visitor to the hospital, and he constantly 
declined honorary title, if these involved duties as he could not find the time 
for them. 

The Ripon Hospital was a municipal institution and was entirely supported 
by municipal funds. The Punjab Government gave a grant of Rs. 1,500 per 
year. 48 The management of the hospital was vested with a body of twelve 
Governors, of whom only three were members of the MC. The function of 
the MC was to make a provision for the upkeep of the hospital in the annual 
budget. The detailed allocation of funds under different heads was vested 
with the Civil Surgeon in his capacity as the Superintendent of the hospital. 
The expenditure incurred on the Ripon Hospital was Rs. 26.833, anna 13, 
paise 6, in 1900 and Rs. 28,645, anna 7, paise 5 in 1904. 49 The expenditure 
had been met partly by the income derived from paying European patients, 
partly by subscriptions from public of Shimla and partly by municipal and 
government grants. 

Proper distribution of water was one of the most crucial questions 
confronting the MC till 1880. In the early years, Shimla depended for its 
water supply on a reservoir fed by the water issuing from two tunnels bored 
at a short distance into the Jakhoo hill on either side of the Combermere 
bridge ravine. The first serious attempt to tackle the water crisis was made in 
1880 when 15300 acres of land was acquired from the Rana of Koti on the 
south of Mahasu. 50 The additional supply of water to Shimla was brought in 
iron pipes from the springs in the Mahasu hill at a distance of about ten miles 
in 1883. For this purpose a reservoir was constructed at Seog. The total cost 

47. 'Proceedings of a meeting of the Ripon Hospital Committee, held at Simla on 23rd 
October 1886' in MC Proceedings, Vol. Ill, 1883-1887, pp. 1-2. 

48. Punjab Gazetteer, Shimla District, 1904, p. 130. 

49. Ibid 

50. 'Letter from C.L. Tupper, Junior Secretary to the Government, Punjab and its 
Dependencies to Colonel L.J.H. Grey, Commissioner and Superintendent, Delhi, 
Division', MC Proceedings, Vol. IX, 1898, p. 1. (HPSA). 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

of the works was estimated at Rs. 9,72,745. 51 But subsequently, with the 
further growth of population of the city, this supply of water also proved 
insufficient. Therefore, in order to augment the water supply to the city about 
four miles of pipe was laid in 1889 at a lower level than the original site and 
then connected to the original pipes. 

In 1913, the Committee felt that demand of water had again exceeded 
the supply. So in 1913, with the installation ofthe Chaba electricity generating 
station on the Satluj, a pumping station in the ravine below the Fagu and Shali 
peaks was established. This pumping station also could not fulfill the demand 
of the people, because of the steep rise of population of Shimla. Thus in 
1 920, another extension of the water supply system was considered a necessity. 
The Gumma pumping project, sanctioned in 1922, was completed by the end 
of 1924. At Gumma, there were electrically driven pumps, each capable of 
lifting 35,000 gallons per hour. 52 

It was particularly during the dry summer months that Shimla faced an 
acute shortage of water. The maximum water supply available daily during 
the diy season from the upper gravity line was 60,000 gallons. Cherot Nallah 
brought 2,50,000 gallons, Chair carried 3,52,000 gallons and from Gumma 
5,28,000 gallons were made available. 53 Despite this, there was shortage of 
water persisted. In order to solve this problem, the MC imposed restriction 
against the misuse of water. There was a total prohibition of the use of water 
for gardening, for tennis courts and some restriction on domestic use as well. 
A water tax was levied for the first time in 1 900-0 1 . This created an additional 
income of Rs. 4,951. The cost of maintenance of water supply was 25 per 
cent of the total expenditure. 54 

The underground drainage and sewerage in Shimla came into existence 
in 1 893 . Since then, the drainage scheme of Shimla consisted of 3' -9" mains 
on the south side of hill. These mains radiated from the first waterfall in the 
Lalpani Nullah to Chhota Shimla, Bara Shimla and Boileauganj. From the 
junction of the three mains at the waterfall, a single 9" main continued on to 
the third waterfall where it discharged direct into the nallah. In 1901, an 
extension of the drainage arrangements was made. These extensions consisted 
of a branch main distributed over the entire station. All the branch mains were 
provided with small depots in convenient positions for the disposal of soil. 

51. Gazetteer of Shimla District, 1888-89, p. 111. 

52. B. No. 183, File No. 2006, 1942, p. 23. (HPSA). 

53. Ibid., p. 24. 

54. Punjab Gazetteer, Shimla District, 1904, p. 127. 

Some Aspects of municipal Development... 


The scheme, as it stood towards the end of colonial rule consisted of five 
different installations': Lalpani, Kasumpti, Snowdon, North Shimla and Summer 
Hill. The total estimated cost of work for the extension of mains and disposal 
works amounted to Rs. 5,86,079. 55 In order to link Shimla with other localities 
of the town, the MC appointed a committee in 1877 under the chairmanship 
of Colonel Rose, Engineer of the MC. The main term of reference was to 
report on the practicability of improving certain roads in Shimla station and to 
make them fit for wheeled carriages. The roads mentioned by the MC were 
between Observatory Hill, Summer Hill and Boileauganj, Observatory Hill to 
Peterhof and Peterhof to ChauraMaidan, ChauraMaidan to Knockdrin house 
and Knockdrin house to Kennedy cottage. 56 

The road from Knockdrin to Kalka-Shimla cart road connected with 
the Mall at Knockdrin. The road took off from the cart road immediately 
above the railway station. It rose through the Kennedy Cottage estate and 
emerged on the Mall immediately opposite the entrance of Knockdrin. The 
estimated cost of these link roads was Rs. 5,425 and the work was completed 
in 1905. 57 Another road from Sanjauli to Kainthu was also completed in the 
same year. The cost of the construction of this road was estimated at Rs. 73, 
230. 58 The objective of the construction of this road was to direct the mule 
and coolie traffic from the Mall between Lakkar Bazaar and Sanjauli. In order 
to connect the Lower Bazaar and Sanjauli road, a tunnel was constructed at a 
cost of Rs. 50,000. The tunnel was 500 feet long and 10 feet wide at ground 
level. The tunnel was completed in September 1905. 59 

An interesting point worth mentioning here is that the felling of trees 
was also done during this time, often for aesthetic reasons. This is evident 
from the correspondence of H.C. Fanshawe, the Commissioner and 
Superintendent, Delhi Division, to A. Meredith, the Deputy Commissioner, 
Shimla. In his letter, dated 30 th July 1900, to Deputy Commissioner, Shimla 
Fanshawe states, 'roads and paths in all parts of the station are so much shut 
in by trees that it is generally speaking impossible to get any wide view from 

55. Ibid. 

56. 'Report of the Committee appointed by the Punjab Government, Home Department, 
Resolution No. 1255, dated 29th June 1 877, to report on the practicability of improving 
certain roads in states of Shimla to make them fit for weeled carriage' B. No. 72, File No. 
667, 1887, pp. 1-7 (HPSA). 

57. Punjab District Gazetteer, Shimla District, 1904, p. 130. 

58. Ibid., p. 131. 

59. Ibid 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

them. For instance it is impossible for the most to see either the wooded crest 
of Jakhoo or the pine slopes in the valley .from the main road between Chhota 
Shimla and the Convent and though the views on this side from the middle 
road above Barnes Court, and from the upper road past Longview are rather 
better, they are not nearly so good as they might be. What is wanted is to cut 
down a few trees at certain projecting points of the road for the upward 
vistas and from the some points and at the heads of ravines for the downward 
vistas, and this might be done at very small cost, and indeed at no net cost as 
the value of the timber felled would more than meet the cost of felling I 
should say'. 60 

The MC spent 4 to 5 per cent of its budget on providing educational 
facilities. The first ever known educational institution of Shimla was the Shimla 
Municipal Board School established in 1848. It had two branches, one near 
the post-office atBoileauganj and other in the Municipal Sarai at the cart road. 
Only a small number of educational institutions were run by the MC. The 
total expenditure on education in 1900-04 was 1.76 per cent. But in 1920-21 
this further declined to only 1.51 per cent of the total budget. 61 

The Municipal Corporation of Shimla has had a long and interesting 
history. A beginning in local-self rule was made on 1 5 December 1851, when 
the Shimla Municipal Committee was constituted and became one of the 
oldest Committees in Punjab. Since its inception, the Committee remained an 
appendage to the Punjab government. Except for a few intermitant periods, it 
could never become a democratic or autonomous body. A.O. Hume, the 
father of Indian National Congress, remained the Vice-President of the 
Committee from 1 882 to 1 884. He played an important role in its growth and 
development. It was he who exerted pressure on the government to reform 
the MC and make it appear to be democratic body. This enabled government 
employees to contest the municipal election. However, the constitution of the 
Committee was framed and amended in such a way that it suited imperial 
interests. Even when some elected elements were introduced in the MC, the 
elected body could not make decisions independently as it was dominated by 
nominated officials. 

Despite limitations in its constitutional and administrative structure, the 
MC contributed significantly towards the improvement of Shimla town. The 
Committee constructed a network of roads that linked different localities of 

60. B. No. 72, File No. 667, 1877, p. 6. (HPSA). 

61. Punjab District Gazetteers, Vol. VI, Part B, Shimla District Statistical Tables, 1936. 

Some Aspects of municipal Development... 


the town. It also created a network of medical and health services by opening 
Ripon Hospital and some other dispensaries around the town. It also set up 
some schools. This infrastructure benefited the local population along with 
the Europeans. A Town Hall was constructed between 1 885 and 1888 which 
is a landmark structure that Shimla boasts of even today. For providing water 
to the population of the town three water pumping stations at Cherot Nallah, 
Chair and Gumma were set up. These pumping stations are major sources of 
water supply to the town even today. 

The development of the above stated infrastructure naturally depended 
on the availability of finance. It may be stated that the financial position of the 
MC was sound since its inception. This was mainly because Shimla was the 
most heavily taxed town in northern India. The MC generated income from 
various taxes and other levies. The burden of local taxes on the local population 
was much heavier in comparison to the other urban local bodies of the country. 
The MC also resorted to loans to finance the construction of buildings, water 
supply systems, sewerage and roads, etc. Seen thus, while the creation of 
infrastructure by the British by setting up the MC can be viewed as a step in 
the right direction in the development of the town, it is difficult to ignore the 
fact that imperial interests reigned supreme in such initiatives. 


Babusha Malngi* 

The term 'Urbanisation' refers to the extent of population living in 
urban areas. It is a result of migration of rural population to urban areas . 1 The 
pattern of 'urban' settlement is distinct from 'rural'. Its population generally is 
much larger, more densely clustered, more mobile and heterogeneous . 2 Better 
infrastructure for residential, educational, medical and health has been a primary 
variable attracting the people in the villages to move towards urban centres. 
Moreover, urban development has been a tool to provide the services and 
employment opportunities to the people in various sectors. "In the total 
prospective 'Urbanisation' may be seen as an outcome of geo-political and 
socio-economic activities in the country or the region ." 3 Urbanisation is a 
world-wide process and it has been considered not only as an index of 
economic development but also as an important factor of social change. On 
the basis of western experience, it is argued that urbanisation implies a break 
down of traditional social institutions and values . 4 Mitchell refers to urbanization 
as being the process of becoming urban, moving to cities, changing from 
agriculture to other pursuits common to cities, and corresponding changing 
of behaviour . 5 One of the chief indicators of the degree of urbanisation is the 
percentage of urban population to the total population. Another indicator is 
the percentage growth rate of urban population in each decade. In fact, the 

* Research Scholar, Department of History, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. 

1. R.S. BawaandManoj Kumar Sharma "Urbanisation in Punjab: A Casual Analysis", in 
Urbanisation And Urban Development In Punjab, (ed. S.N. Misra), Guru Ram Dass 
P.G. School of Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 1985, p. 29. 

2. Reeta Grewal, "Urban Revolution Under Colonial Rule", Five Punjabi Centuries: Polity, 
Economy, Society and Culture, (c. 1500-1990), (ed. Indu Banga), Manohar Publishers, 
Delhi, 1997, p. 438. 

3. S.N. Misra, Urbanisation and Urban Development in Punjab, p. 1. 

4. M.S.A. Rao (ed.). Urban Sociology in India: Reader and Source Book, Orient Longman, 
New Delhi, 1974, p. 2. 

5. Gerald Breese (ed.), Urbanization in Newly Developing Countries, Prentice Hall of 
India Private Limited, New Delhi, 1978, p. 3. 

Urbanisation In The Punjab: A Study Of Dhariwal Town 


primary characteristics of a town is its high population concentrated within a 
limited space and a predominantly non-agricultural, particularly non-cultivated 
in nature of its population. The urban history is concerned with growth of 
urban units, the pattern of their development, the factors promoting to their 
growth and impact of urbanisation on the society in various spheres. 6 It is not 
an easy task to identify all the variables relating to urbanisation and urban 
development in short writing. In the early 19 th century Punjab, the residents 
of the urban areas formed nearly 12 percent of the total population in the 
region. During this period nearly a hundred and fifty urban centres of different 
sizes and their importance can be identified and located. 7 The population in 
'cities and towns thus grew into two phases — the first from 1881 to 1911, 
with minor increase and then from 1 92 1 onwards showing substantial growth. 8 
"It was for the first time in the National Third Five Year Plan (1961-1966) that 
emphasis was laid on 'urbanisation' as an immediate process of the socio- 
economic development". 9 In the changing world, there are factors that affect 
the process of urbanisation — like changing government policies, pattern of 
urbanisation dichotomy, changing modes of production and relations etc. 
Punjab is a typical case of growth pattern i.e. agricultural development is 
followed by the development of industries and service sector. 

The present study is precisely an attempt to study the process of 
urbanisation of individual unit named Dhariwal in District Gurdaspur in Punjab. 
The process of urbanisation of this town is essentially due to development of 
manufacturing units. Of course, variables like migration of the people of 
nearby villages and settings in Dhariwal are also important. However, an attempt 
has been made to focus the role of founding New Egerton Woolen Mills in 
Dhariwal. This text has been constructed on the basis of data collected from 
various official and non-official sources and also the field work. 

Dhariwal was known as Kacha Dhariwal in the beginning of 20 th 
centuiy. Dhariwal derives its name from the village Dhariwal situated very 

6. Reeta Grewal, Polity Economy and Urbanisation, Early Nineteenth Century Punjab, 
M.Phil. Dissertation, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 1983, pp. 2-9. 

7. Ibid,, p. 2. 

8. In 1 88 1, only about 1 3% of the urban population was living in large cities. The year 
1 92 1 -3 1 is aptly regarded as a turning point in the demographic history of the country 
for up. In 1931, the urban population increased to 1, 168, 413 persons and percentage 
of urban to total population increased to 14.58 from 12. 16 in 1 92 1 . In this decade the 
growth rate of urban population was the highest, 34.37 percent. Although the number 
oftowns increased by only 7 in 1931 as compared to 1921. Census of India 1971 -.Punjab, 
Series- 1 7, Part VI-A, Chandigarh, 1 972, p. 4. 

9. S.N. Misra, Urbanisation and Urban Development in Punjab, p. 4. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

close to the present town. It was a small settlement of a jat clan engaged 
mainly in agriculture. 10 The Gurdaspur was founded by man known as Guraji 
in early 1 9 th century. 11 The district Gurdaspur is bounded in the east by Kangra 
district of Himachal Pradesh (separated by river Chakki) and Hoshiarpur district 
(separated by river Beas) in the South by Amritsar district, in the West by 
Pakistan and Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir and in the North by 
Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. As early as 1 855 Gurdaspur became a 
district headquarters. 12 

Before we proceed with the process of urbanisation of this town it is 
relevant to define the concept of town. The town, especially a small one, has 
been defined in different ways. The small town has been located in the countiy 
side in its initial stage. It has been either on the highway or on the ferries. It 
gradually grows into the local centre of trade Or manufacturing units providing 
services to the people of countryside. With the passage of time, it becomes 
the concentration of artisans, shopkeepers and traders etc. 13 In fact, it takes 
the form of an integrated social relationship. It becomes an academy of learning 
and also a symbol of power and unity. It has uniqueness and the becoming 
hub of civilisation. 14 

The Census of 1931 was the first census which put Dhariwal into 
the category of town and recorded its population 4, 1 86. 15 The major advantage 
of its location is the gift of Ravi, Upper Bari Doab Canal which passes through 

1 0. District Revenue Record 1865. 

11. Gurdaspur District Gazetteer: 1978, p. 1. 

12. Indu Banga, "Polity, Economy, Urbanisation In The Upper Bari Doab (1700-1947)", 
Studies in Urban History (eds. J.S. Grewal and Indu Banga), Guru Nanak Dev University, 
Amritsar, 1931, pp. 193-205 (hereafter Indu Banga). 

13. Indu Banga, "The small town and rural-urban interactions theoretical framework", Paper 
presented at seminar on the small town in Indian and rural urban networks at IIAS, 
Shimla, April 1992. 

14. S.C. Misra, "Urban History in Histoiy : Possibilities And Perspectives", The City in 
Indian History: Urban Demography, Society and Politics, (ed. Indu Banga), Manohar 
Publishers, 1994, pp. 1-2. 

15. Census of India 1931: The Punjab, Vol. XVII, Lahore, 1931, p. 21. According to the 
instructions of Registrar General, India, town area should have a minimum population 
of 5, 000. It should have a density not less than 1,000 persons per square mile. It must 
be served by Municipal Committee, Cantonment Board and Notified Area Committee, 
and at least 75 percent male working; see also. Census of India 1961: The Punjab, Vol. 
XIII, Shimla, 1961, p. 61. 

Urbanisation In The Punjab: A Study Of Dhariwal Town 


this town. 16 The area between Ravi and Beas rivers is irrigated by Upper Bari 
Doab Canal. 17 The Upper Bari Doab itself is subdivided into the majha region 
between Lahore and Amritsar districts. It is bounded by Shivaliks in the North 
and the Grand Trunk Road in the South. 18 This canal in 1840s was an integral 
part of a large state created by Maharaja Ranj it Singh in early 19 th centuiy. 19 
During colonial rule the original project of the canal was drawn up in 1 850. It 
was formally opened in April, 1859 for irrigation, navigation and industrial 
purposes. 20 In earlier days when hydro and thermal power was not in use the 
power of water fall of Upper Bari Doab was utilized to run the woollen mills, 
latter water mills ( Gharats ) were run by hydro or thermal power. 21 Due to the 
increased demand of electricity a thermal power station was set-up by the 
mills in 1925. This power station served Dhariwal Mills only. 22 In early 20 th 
century canal divided the Dhariwal into two parts which were in equally 
developed. The area in which mills was located the pace of urbanisation was 
faster as compared to the area across the canal. Simultaneously, the canal 
also led to a radical change in the crop pattern, which increased the volume of 
production. As a result, agricultural export began to flourish, moreover, land 
became the market commodity. Above all, it accelerated the process of 
accumulation of the people. 23 

If industrialisation can be said to have been the first great and 
continuing revolution in recent times, then certainly the world's second recent 

16. The term Upper or lower were added to the names of the perennial canals extracted from 
rivers Ravi, Chenab and Jehlam, when the second perennial canal from the same river 
was excavated. Agricultural Growth Under Colonial Constraints : The Punjab 1849- 
1947, (Sukhwant Singh), Manpreet Prakashan, Delhi, 2000, p. 93 (hereafter Sukhwant 
Singh). 'Bari implies a land between the rivers Beas and Ravi. It combines first letter of 
these two rivers: B (Beas) and R (Ravi). The term 'Doab' which in Persian literally means 
'two waters' means' land between two rivers. Social Change in the Upper Bari Doab : 
( 1849-1947 ), (Hira Singh), Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 1 996, p. 1 . (hereafter 
Hira Singh). 

17. Census of India 1971: Punjab, Series-17, PartX-A& B, Chandigarh, 1971, p. 14. 

18. Census of India: Regional Divisions of India, Series-I, Vol. XVII, New Delhi, 
1989, p. 27. 

19. Hira Singh, p. 49. 

20. The construction of Upper Bari Doab Canal was considered as a political necessity by 
the British to give employment to the disbanded Sikh soldiers. Sukhwant Singh, 
pp. 93-94. 

21. Census of India 1981: Punjab, p. 7. 

22. Census of India 1991: Punjab , Series-20, Part XII, Chandigarh, 1 996. p. 9. 

23. Himadri Banerjee, Agrarian Society of the Punjab, Manohar Publications, Delhi, 1982, 
p. 26. 

April 2007 

80 The Panjab Past And Present 

and continuing revolution is urbanisation. The term industrialisation has 
frequently been used interchangeably with urbanisation. In some parts of the 
world industrialisation and urbanisation have gone hand in hand and have 
developed together. 24 Industries form the backbone of the economy of the 
nation. It is the industrialisation which strengthen the socio-economic base of 
a nation. In 1 847 few ex-army British officers took initiative with a sense of 
entrepreneurship and laid down the foundation of British industrial woollen 
unit in Dhariwal. The mill was named as Egerton Wollen Mills. The mill has 
had been located on NH-15 i.e. Amritsar-Pathankot highway, about 3.2 k.m. 
from bus-stand of Dhariwal in North-East direction. In year 1880 Plant and 
equipments were installed and given new name to the establishment as "New 
Egerton Woollen Mills." It may be regarded as the modest beginning of 
manufacturing unit for solely, and exclusively meeting the requirements of 
defence forces. But afterwards, with the expansion, development and 
diversification of product, Dhariwal became a household word throughout 
the country. 

After the independence, radical changing in the taste, fashion, needs 
of the people took place. In order to meet the requirements of people the 
company diversified the products; blankets, hosiery garments. For that, a 
variety of administrative and technical departments were established. 25 With 
the full impiementation of the plan for further expansion and modernisation of 
the mills there were enormous potentialities for substantial increase in export 
by reducing the cost of production. Meanwhile, British ownership was 
transformed into the Indian hands in 1953. 

24. Gerald Breese (ed.), Urbanization In Newly Developing Countries, p. 5. 

25. Organisational Structure of the Mills : 

The Structure comprises following departments : 

I. Cording Spinning Deptt. 

II. Cording Combing Deptt. 

III. Worsted Deptt. 

IV. Weaving Deptt. 

V Finishing Deptt. 

VI. Ware house/Packing Deptt. 

(II) Administrative Block: 

(A) Administrative Office 

(a) Personal Wing. 

(b) Welfare Wing. 

(c) Labour Wing. 

(B) Financial Wing : 

(a) Sales Wing. 

(b) Legal Wing. 

Urbanisation In The Punjab: A Study Of Dhariwal Town 81 

The geographical situation of an area can be understood in terms of 
the rainfall of the area, its fertility, availability of agricultural land and scope 
for natural irrigation. British choose Dhariwal for founding this unit as the 
natural climate for woollen production.'The place recorded 905.7 mm. rainfall, 
maximum temperature 45.5 of minimum 2.3. 25 Slope of the site is 1 m in 550 
m from North-East to South-West direction. It was helpful in laying sewerage 
network under gravity flow. Soil type of area was and is loamy, good and 
very fertile. So, there was a good scope for landscaping. Trees were helpful 
in reducing air and noise pollution. It has adequate rail and road links to major 
trade centres and towns of Punjab and India. It provides good accessibility 
for raw material and finished goods, thus, adding to its development potential. 

The New Egerton Woolen Mills, Dhariwal was the branch of the 
British India Corporation with its head-office at Kanpur. Till 1 979-80, the mill 
was financially sound but afterwards it went under debt. The time came 
when the mill was on the verge of closedown, which led to the retrenchment 
of the 3600 workers. The national government decided to take-over all the 
privately held share of company. Mill became nationalized on 1 1 June, 1981. 
Now it has 1260 workers. However, the government of India intervened and 
took-over its control. 

Apart from the contribution of the wollen mills to the process of 
urbanisation, there were other factors which accelerate this process. One of 
the factors were activities of the Christian missionaries and their educational 
as well evangelical institutions. The founding of CNI Church in 1890 and 
Milne Memorial High School in 1903 were important events in this context. 
The missionaries converted the people who eventually settled at Dhariwal. As 
a result, this town became headquarters of a process of socio-religious and 
cultural interaction. Besides, the evangelical activities of Christian Missionaries, 
the Arya Samajists and the Sikhs too contributed to this process. The former 
founded DAV School in 1923. Whereas, the latter established Guru Nanak 
Dev Girls School in 1942. To run these institutions, the services of the 
professionals as well as assistants were required. In the wake of their regular 
jobs, some of them settled here. Thus, another class came into being. 

The process of urbanisation assumed new overtones, when the 
government encouraged the Gurkhas to come and stay at Dhariwal. Most of 

26. Census of India 1971 : Punjab, p. 14. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

them were retired army personnel who brought their families here. Although 
their number was marginal, yet they added a new cultural element among the 
natives. This process got boost when this town was linked by the road and 
rails with the major towns of Punjab. Pathankot-Amritsar railway line, which 
was constructed in 1884 served as an incentive for the factory at Dhariwal. 
With the development of transportation some of the people belonging to trading 
and artisan castes established their petty shops and small manufacturing units. 
The history of manufactures in Dhariwal is more of a process of continuity 
from 1 882 to 1 947 with changes coming after the partition. In the 1 9 th century 
industry was unorganised when the craftsmen worked at home, with hand 
and on small scale. 27 With the turn of the century manufacturer began to 
work on a large scale in the factories. With the machines run by oil and 
electricity and worked by hired labour industries 28 in Dhariwal were started 
after 1955. Several variables can be ascribed to this growth. First and foremost 
was the opening up of new avenues of pitty business, manufacturing units 
and founding of educational institutions. Second was the surplus capital 
generated by the green revolution, which the prosperous agriculturists invested 
in this town. These agriculturists established their cold stores, shellers and 
goodowns. Third was the forced migration of Hindus in particularly and 
Sikhs in general during terrorist movement in last quarter of 20 th century. 
Dhariwal was one of the towns of district Gurdaspur which was attacked by 
the terrorists. The Hindus in the nearby villages felt threatened and moved to 
this town. The Hindus established their stronghold in this town. However, in 
the beginning, the government also provided infrastructure facilities in Dhariwal. 
For this purpose in 1887 for security purposes police station was established. 
Marcobert Hospital for health services was also established by the government. 
In 1935 the power house was established. According to the Act of 1911, 
Town Notified Area Committee worked in Dhariwal. But, later in 1955 a 
nominated municipal committee worked in Dhariwal. 29 These such 
infrastructure developments which gave impetus to the town, are of the 

27. Indian Industrial Commission Report 1916-18, Superintendent, Government Printing, 
Calcutta, 1918, p. 160. 

28. The term industry means the manufacturing establishment engaged in mechanical and 
chemical transformation of organic or inorganic substances in new products or assembling 
components on their own or jobbing basis with or without use of power. 

29. Babusha Maingi, 'Urban Growth in the Punjab: A Study of Dhariwal Town', M. Phil. 
Dissertation, Department of History, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 2005, p. 69. 

Urbanisation In The Punjab: A Study Of Dhariwal Town 


following categories: 30 

Categories Existing No. of Units 

Hosiery 32 

Saw Mills 15 

Furniture 4 

Railings and Grills 8 t 

Steel Works 1 0 

Bakery 6 

Soap Factory 3 

After the independence of India industrialisation has been one of the 
main objectives. The five year plans were meant for the growth. These plans 
comprised : Industrial towns, Industrial estates. Industrial growth centres, 

Free enterprises zones, Industrial focal points, Industrial zones, Industrial 
works. Such projects were also established in Punjab. Besides the Punjab 
government also followed the policy of liberalization which was initiated by 
government of India. / 

In Dhariwal the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation 
Limited (PSIEC) undertook the project of Industrial Focal Point. Although 
this project aimed at the integrated development of this town yet due to the 
financial constraints the project failed to come up. Nevertheless, the agro- 
based industries like the Rice Husking Mills continued to function. The number 
of such mills multiplied into ten. 31 

Besides, most of the trading activities were concentrated into the 
hands of the Mahajans and Khatris etc. Mahajans among the trading castes 
took the lead in this context. The artisan castes, who were specialized in their 
inherited occupational skills consisted of chhimbbas, carpenters, blacksmiths / 

and goldsmiths. Some of the workers were employed in woollen mills. Among 



Data Collected from district industrial department, Batala. 

The list of these mills are as follows : 

(1) Hanuman rice mill, Biderpur - Dhariwal, - Shri Janak Raj Maingi. 

(2) Adarsh rice mill, Gurdaspur road, Dhariwal - Shri Bua Ditta Joshi. 

(3) Mahalakshmi rice mill, Dadwa road, Dhariwal - Shri Kewal Krishan. 

(4) Amrit rice mill, Dadwa road, Dhariwal - Shri Jaspal Vijj. 

(5) Sewak rice mill, Dadwa road, Dhariwal - Shri Banarsi Dass. 

(6) Ganesh rice mill, Batala road, Dhariwal - Shri Kundan Lai. 

(7) Hans rice mill, Jaffarwal road, Dhariwal - Shri Ram Lubhaia 

(8) Vohra rice mill, Kadhia road, Dhariwal - Shri Om Parkash Vohra. 

(9) Sargodhya rice mill, Khundaroad, Dhariwal - Sh. Ranbir Singh. 

(10) Now some rice mills were closed due to economic crises. 



The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

the carpenters who became economically well off, were known as Ramgarhias. 
Enterprising artisans further established their religious and educational 
institutions subsequently. Nevertheless, their next generation got education in 
the schools and colleges, which enabled them to opt for new professions. 
Thus, the process of occupational activities were carried on by the artisan 
castes. It is important to mention here that when the population of towns like 
Behrampur, Sri Hargobindpur and Fatehgarh towns was declining and they 
were being declassified as municipalities, the population of Dhariwal grew 
up. 32 Most probably, it was due to the functioning of New Egerton Woollen 
Mills, which was creating more job avenues. In the decinal period of 1931- 
41, Dhariwal gained by more than 50% in population. 33 

Briefly speaking, the process of urbanisation of this town which 
started under the colonial rule continued uninterruptedly since it became a 
little colonial mandi. The New Egerton Woollen Mills made a specific 
contribution to this process in terms of the migration of the trading and artisan 
castes. Moreover, the infrastructure of transportation linked this town with 
the' villages. Consequently, the agrarian goods formed a market and the 
agriculturists began to invest their surplus capital in terms of building shops, 
agro-processing units and cold stores etc. Some of them shifted their 
residences to this town. This pattern of urbanisation has been going on since 

32. Indu Banga, p. 200. 

33. Census of India-1961: Punjab, 173; Indu Banga, p. 200; also see R.S. Bawan, Manoj 
Kumar Sharma, "Urbanization in Punjab, A Casual Analysis," Urbanization & Urban 
Development in Punjab (ed. S.N. Misra), p. 31. 


Navtej Singh * 

Resistance to the British imperialism had actually begun with very 
annexation of the Punjab. Both elite and popular movements emerged with 
the beginning of the Revolt of Bhai Maharaj Singh, the Namdhari or Kooka 
Lehar, the Singh Sabha Movement, the Punjab Disturbances of 1907, the 
Ghadr Party Revolt of 1913-16, the Rowlett Agitation, the Non-Cooperation 
Movement, Hindustan-Socialist Republican Association, the Kirti Kissan Party 
and the Quit India Movement are among various other socio-political upheavals. 
These counteractions have attracted much attention of the historical scholarship 
focusing on colonial Punjab with emphasis on the causes of their origin, 
developments, British attitudes, consequences and profiles of different social 
and political personalities. 

Yet the use of 'history' as technique to mobilise popular opinion during 
various agitations and protests have not been examined in order to locate how 
the previous ‘history’ could become part of people's mobilisation and also a 
yardstick to compare the two regimes. This paper tends to examine the process 
of utilisation of this modus operandi by focusing on its forms and methods 
along with the type of ‘histoiy’ exercised. However, impact of this methodology 
remains beyond the boundary of this attempt. For a brief-study only the 
analysis of the Ghadr Party has been selected. The movement began during 
1913-16 in USA by the immigrant Indians, prominently the Punjabis among 
them. Its leadership was in the hands of Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna and Lala 
Hardyal. It was the first international movement against the British rule in India. 1 

Soon after its establishment on 2 1 April 1 9 1 3, the Party began to publish 
a newspaper, called Ghadr. Besides this weekly publication, other important 
literature produced by the Party included Ghadr Di Gunj, Babhar Gunj, Ghadri 
Te Kama, Desh Bhagtan Di Bani, Sudesh Sewak, Sansar, Yugantar, Hindustan 

* Reader & Head, Punjab Historical Studies Department, Punjabi University, Patiala. 

1 . Navtej Singh, Challenge to Imperial Hegemony: The Life Story of A Great Indian Patriot 
Udham Singh, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1998, pp. 13-16. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

Ghadr, Hindustan Sanfransisco, India and Canada, Social Sudhar, etc. 2 
Considering the scope of this paper only this literary form of mobilisation 
have been taken for examination with focus on the Ghadr and Hindustan 
Ghadr. Further, narrowing the scope, only poetical writings in these 
newspapers are analysed. Most of this poetry has been written in Punjabi 
language by the Punjabis, majority of whom are Sikhs. 3 

To begin with the poetry which is addressed to the Indians, especially 
the Punjabis, more precisely the members and sympathisers of the Ghadr 
Party; the earlier references are made to the struggle of Guru Gobind Singh 
with the Mughals, sacrifying his own sons and himself. Here the Mughal 
state is shown as foreign and the war was between the state and the Sikhs. 
However, the Sikhs gave the Mughals a lesson to remember. 4 Guru's military 
training is justified against the state's use of violence. 5 Eighteenth century 
struggle led by Banda Bahadur is a symbol of heroism and sacrifice. 6 Mention 
of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Hari Singh Nalwa, Akali Phoola Singh assume 
significance for their examples and actions to be followed. 7 

Militant fight against tyranny is stressed; lack of it ended in the arrest of 
Maharaja Dalip Singh and it ended the future of the Panth . 8 During the revolt 
of 1857 the Sikhs were divided. The rulers of Princely states of Punjab, 
especially of Nabha and Patiala sided with the British and the Ghadr literature 
rejected and criticised their role which helped in perpetuating slavery of the 
British. 9 Creation of Khalsa is meant to fight against suppression and slavery. 10 

2. Kesar Singh Novelist, Ghadr Lehar Di Kavita, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, 
Patiala, 1995, pp. 1-21. 

3. Ibid . , pp. 26-33. 

4. ETT fife Wf cfftPtfr tPBgi ^3" fe# fit frldld £ STS' fifurll 
faraw hpt ttri'tfl w gftw iff I err iff feref gnff fifurll 

(ifa wvf ycnv, ri<wd1 1914, w 94, @uh) 

5. tfdl cidA tff faftw VST fedl I 3JE 1 ft ST Hod feWT? fifurll 


6. gg m rer d gfw uu offefi gff uu gfe>>r Hnsf-mr fifurll 
OdA' iHdtd HHflTcF sfal'JP iff I dU sWl W ddl W te'tt fifurll 

7. firs 1 fifur d<SHl d B-agunsp-iofte 1 - wfm* w hw fifurll 
ggf fifur Jgggf Hgww ggi sor few fw fifurll 
SW fifur moral iff s 1 HU T I frtd EUW &Z WoPW fifurll 
it? unfimt erg tpgfg tw hv wn wit fifurll 

8. ffe 1 fifur gwfir ?r sfe oftwi gfern 1- tfg w >few g*® - fifurll 

" (fuh 

.9. tfe jfwHd^ri' feg greg gfern 1- 1 rndgM 7 tfg §■ ggg fifurll 

WW ifef W effef Hi -d.d'd'dT I H3f. UTT fgpJT UU^W fifurll 
hm »rafef feg iff i oraw fvspg h greg w ww fifufll 

(§gf,W 95) 

.10. HdA U'cfd did 1 H'fedflffl oG ore Hsl'tt fifurll 


‘History’ In Popular Movements : 'Use' Against The British 


Examples from contemporary developments of recent history are also stressed 
with the mentioning of murder of Bhai Bhagwan Singh and the exiles of the 
heroes of the Punjab Disturbances of 1907 including Ajit Singh, Lajpat Rai, 
Tilk, Barkatullah, Madam Kama, Krishnaji Verma, Savarkar, Aurobindo Ghosh 
and Sufi Amba Prasad etc." 

There is rejection of Sir Sundar Singh Majithia's role along with the 
Sikh leadership controlling Harmandar Sahib is considered pro-British and 
anti-Sikhs. Glorification of Shahbaj Singh, Subeg Singh, Baba Deep Singh 
and Mehtab Singh is revoked to sacrifice. 12 Revolt of 1914 has been equated 
with the revolt of 1 857 and Rani of Jhansi has been symbolised as the leader 
of the rebellion. 13 Guru Gobind Singh's Bani is quoted to qualify a brave 
person. 14 A single person of Khalsa could fight with armies of the enemy. 15 
Congress functioning has been rejected and British jobs are quoted to slavery. 16 
Fighting capacity of Rajputs, Sikhs and Pathans is exhorted against British 
exploitation. 17 Significance of creation of Guru, Panth, Khalsa and sacrifices 

11. ItTH prof arefe et SPTT TUf I fee fee U3ea ftfufll 

tee fee Hira e eaTSSei efvW gg; fjfufll 

fort!?)' gam tT r fee gate Wl H¥H oPVp- tF elf fttWS feufll 
uiefee uia |r tram ear jt^i few fas fee ears faurii 
arst fee ate 1 ^ e fe tsi rra eea e sfcrei-s faurll 
fifur set aetar et are ea i aee eea s at arses fifur II 


12. nnr fifur gear aver eei fee eeaet erne fetes- fifur ll 
e are we aV eta fifur gen ee varae 1 ear # ere fifurii 
ate*- eatw fifur ne’e e'en fee 1- arfew afe feres fifufll 
ear u'SH 1 rft fee tee 1- ei gwr arm e ora faws vfeeii 
fee teea efe vfe efei irf feaet iff ae Kies fa'urli 

” (faf, vs 96-97) 

13. met sasgt efer Hers afei eea eeift ere wa fjfurii 

(fef, u<e97) 

14. Ha 1- a vfaefefe e are ets e esi 
yae 1 - yeie as He erg ?e era veil 

(fat, w 94) 

15. feQ s’- s>« HHna fee ■ , ee 7, aet fifur Ha 1- hoo^'g fee i 
irw are a seae fear ge 7 , are are*- e §a aeies farih 

(tie.- fear eafee?yare,suar- fear eatw fifur, esget 1914, vs 99-100) 

16 . evenr e 7 eas eats efew, iee w farw ear en 

feaar feear a ara et sarat e 7 , aO near fee are 1 " s fews i 

(te.- utu^^uct, saar- fear vest frfur, e sgal 1914) 

17. are - vfet vfet araar »»<■> arfat, aas ufatw et ear Tear saf i 
few ?e fife d«<ee aws see, faast Ta at faf 7 et mar st i 
are marie are s ear saft, see arfaw © w af uee sari 

(ae.- fee ss swdfhP ee arts 7 , saar — ea ipft, frsgat 1914, as 7 102) 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

made by Bhai Mani Singh and Baba Deep Singh are cited to awaken the 
responsibility during crises . 1 8 Walking on edge of sword was Khalsa identification . 19 

Depiction of various events of life of Guru Gobind Singh and the 
atrocities braved by the Sikhs occupy central position of Sikh history . 20 'Singh' 
is equated with lion who rules over the country . 21 For the first time there is 
mention of the players of Ramayana where the people of our country are 
equated with Kumbhkama who is sleeping without bothering the crisis 
around . 22 Past image of India and the Sikhs are glorified against the British 
slavery 23 . Loss of 'Takhat-i-Tous' and 'Koh-i-Noor' is mentioned to take revenge 
on the British loot . 24 Singh, Khalsa, Bravery and the elements of fearlessness 
are evoked . 25 Sikh race belongs to the Khalsa tradition and its quality of 

18. uuGvare ipau ury rnfay rft, uh uu at to at ss aresi 
fifur Tmr s’ ma fay u, sat & Href wr at as onus'! 
aau >jftT ya ahr fiw <guuf, huh - fifur §■ afr a its aresi 
aau yfr ya hsI fifur uret, feaHS’s ya 7 aw as arefi 

wra 108, ftsuut 1914, us 102-03) 

19. tut fifS3+ STS' S r HS ya 7 , Sta SHUT 7 US at mu awl 
HUH ri'ft U diet tus'A U Hi el, tfdl a ole *td' oA'S'd cjii I 

(t#.- for evlir et yard-, #ya-feaautw fifur, 3 uuuut 1914, us 103-04) 

20. UTJT FHHK feicp- SHU HHS iffe, stt HTSt If Uff HU ^ cTWT S'! 

Hat are Fret fad'y trs yu s ref, tuut wrret are fifur ut au ji 
pt a T sreHre r HP^>irere',Hre fifur at >«u T utd»'d i dtfsH T 77fiti 

sea- fea attire fifur, 17 uuuut, 1914, w 106) 

21 . Ut? aa uu a suf fifur nee 1 , fefas surer uftat u% us - a 1- ! 
fifur sretua^ssurat, uatfireHmaat mw art ai 

(aus 7 .- /uaeywt, 1914, rfs 7 108) 

22 . §s fuaa«'fdG aG w, afasds areft aref-ysatf ureti 

(e d : H'G' h<ji /rtvrt eo', 1914, US 1 109) 

23. feanas- nun at Huai uus yuu yrreff auai 
rfa fesms wywy yuai qutt fossa anat wall 

asat Hiau hs 7 faG sretll 

(asst ay, 10 area, 1914, will) 

24. fat few yaw auai us as s ht# sHuuai 
amts fhfew sure suuai autw us 7 auareti 

asat Hiau war faG aretll 
fsreu few ufer susui aur fea faa a 7 fw u§ui 
mat Tram sta 7 yui au au au faw fnureti 
asat Hiau war faG uretil 
(Gut, W112) 

25. fuaFias a au autH aresttw areT gw fey faGt 
■sld ufa a sfts eu'od' at, Hrer Gw a 7 tra ns 1 fey faG i 
hu ufe s 7 hu 7 a ofa at#, wu fifur a 7 snr ud'fey fa#i 
fifur u a ure difya fifur a, yawfiw aref ywfey faGt 

(arer, 17 nrea 1914, w 114) 

‘History’ In Popular Movements : 'Use' Against The British 


fearlessness has been reminded along with the sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur. 26 

Coming to secular history, heroes of the revolt of 1 857 have been idolised 
including Nana Sahib, Ali Naki Khan, Laxmi Bai, Maulvi Shah Ahmed, Tantia 
Tope, Mangal Pandey etc. 27 The second revolt in Punjab by Bhai Ram Singh 
and the traitors of Kooka movement occupy anti-British examples of inspiration 
to the people. 28 Popularity and power of Maharaja Ranjit Singh alongwith 
bravery of Hari Singh Nalwa are often reminded. 29 Sikhs are advised not to 
forget their tradition. 30 Teachings of Sikh Gurus are emphasised to sacrifice 
for others. 31 True Sikh never tolerates tyranny. 32 By refusing to be true Sikh, 

26. ife 1 " fctf ftfe ft ft few gft, fftft d'ttH 7 st hf 7 fps fftfe Adi i 
to fifur f 7 few 7 ftt ?HTwTftft, mi" ffts few 7 ^ftt stf fftfr sfF i 
fs?f fss ^ftt fwftt ftfs ra, srar sf 7 fww Mr sftt i 

W3T WFt ftfe fLPJPFt ftfe dSW , S tt SW ft SW cOFST fftfe Adi I 

sfspifaF' ft ftt fttHK hcp, fw ft §f ft fAd'w Mf sftTi 
wftt fps Sw wfe fefe ftfe, ferns' ws tofbrftt w 7 ?? Mr sfFi 

(tfe: ^/PSHVSFfPFrftft, 24 HW 1914, W 115.) 

26. Llfdtt dldd WSF fe^ 1 cTH cjtS 7 , A 1 A 1 Hdd >Hftt Soft WW ft die I 
d'fel WcTHHt H » W1 H'F WFHS, fttt d'dldf 7 tfe a»<S'A ft did I 

fftd Hd’rt S' Hdltt U's> , A 1 U yddl clftt H'S'A ft did I 
( $ d : a S 7 huH fhco tr&G, WUoT- feoT UH'dl few, 14 WfW 

1914, lift 119-20.) 

27. affe T slftw 7 cfs UFTO >HSF, FFt few Ffet HFFt yPW ft Flftl 
HSFHS G<J' H'd 1 ol« cftd 1 , dIHd old* S ftfe Ht-PS ft STH" I 

>&uf sw FFnr ft Of ww, yfttw 7 yfefe ft yfe tsns- ft ftfi 
tpsf Of ftt ftvr ft fts fed', tfttH’S' dievH t^ps ft ftfi 

FW few sl'dl HB'ddA efts, A'« FF ftt efftt oidd'A ft did I 
tfe WHS 7 efftt dd'd ScT, TPSF SF ftt WF ttd'e ft did I 

(fft h 

28. fey HF Tid'd d<±dld "cddl , d'dl fFS ft 0F 3TW THA'd ftt Htl 
ftt 7 fes fei4HA fefe feoT H 7 ft, ddl few <dddl HdS'd ftt Htl 

(FWgfg felHTS F 57 ft t WSdl'd), SHOT- sufer few, 10 Hftt 1914, lift- 123-25.) 

29. fttmt fess fettr ftcre'Tr«H T rft »nftr wftftt ^ I 

(#^./ftUHd' r S?G ;: Hdd'dWdd/d7dP,BW-STft,21 HW'dl 1914, W 138.) 

30. H T cT few fttfes ft CFS Hold , US' H'dd H'd ftg 1 ?!' feO Adi I 
ddl few Attd d'dl ddl H'tf , oTfeVT old did ddl Hh'» fo(0 Adi I 
IFK few HdtUd' TJfFfet rftt §MF CT upft W^ fef^ ^ftf l 
stft^ftfeFUHtsnrfrarftft, sfth»ftd | Adl't^s T F^fe§ : sftti 

fe?ft fPK Hfttftt ft SF oftft, HS 1 " dfdddl §F HHFTOfef_s£l 
fe?ft STT WSF Hfe ft? oftft, rTtffe HS 1- 3371(7 ft fAd'tt fef 1 SftTl 

tSfeHTHF, ftUcT : feoT cPH 1 " 3FF 1 " H’eT S 7 SlffeP" HH 7 ^, Lfft 163-65.) 

31. FF 7 few ftfe W ft% Hfe, Wfet S^Jf 7 ft UFdlS oTF fttf dtt-d'A ftl 
FTS ft MS'S" ftfe ffttw 7 St S 7 ^ ftfttft, ftft ft SWF SHf few JtfWWtftl 
tfet F 7 S" WFT JFW SHt FH H'dl PoiO Sftt, d 'o( UF HfeFIF 7 S HW fes UH'ttld I 

(aTsfe- ftft HTFH", WUcr : feorftHS 7 WF 7 few, SfedF 1914, W 168.) 

32 . yrft few d'elG hs few add offs' ftfe hs fhh yps few, 
swst cTS HSTS ft fes UFfft, elFft oCdSfe fesfe CPS fewl 

UTSH 7 ftt ftfe 7 tW ftstft, oTFtft Ftfedf 7 ft FFWS fewl 

(HF t VTO', 24 dAsTdl , 1915, VS 7 186.) 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

one becomes without Guru. 33 Teachings of Guru Granth and Quran are 
reminded against suppression. Hanuman is symbol of challenge and the battle 
between Rama and Ravana is the pointer of victory of good over evil. Blasting 
of Kuka martyrs by cannons is reminded to take revenge on the British. 34 
Myth of golden age of India before the British occupies another construction 
of use of history against imperialism. 35 * 

Thus utilisation of 'histoiy' as technique to mobilize people for their 
participation in popular movements against the British comes out to be favourite 
modus operandi. It is also revealed that majority of these writers being Punjabis 
and especially the Sikhs migrated to foreign lands capture the imagination of 
their heritage. However, they used 'Sikh' and non-Sikh histoiy of India. Among 
the Sikh heritage it is the life of Guru Gobind Singh, sacrifices of his sons, 
and creation of the Khalsa attract their emphasise as models against injustice, 
repression and tyranny alongwith a model of equality, peace and justice. Heroes 
of post-Guru period including Banda Bahadur, Bhai Mani Singh and others 
attract space in the process. There is reference to the martyrdom of Guru 
Tegh Bahadur in the context of 'Hind'. Surprisingly, Guru Arjan Dev's sacrifice 
has no place in their writings. 

Next to get focussed is the rule ofMaharaja Ranjit Singh as a comparison 
between the British exploitation and repression, slavery and de-gradation of 
Indians. Role of nineteenth century heroes like Bhai Maharaj Singh & Baba 
Ram Singh is appreciated, contrary to the rejection of role of Maharani Jindan. 
Further, the Kuka martyrs are often remembered as the symbol of British 
tyranny along with role of S. Ajit Singh and Lala Lajpat Rai attracts much 
attention to be frequently quoted and cited. Coming to the non-Sikh heritage 
or histoiy only two themes attract imagination of these writers. Prominent 
being the revolt of 1 857 and the appreciative role played by its heroes including 

33. 3of>r naaid *■ h 7 wff an crftrr, h hhif ofoa'Q* Ht W3 srhr i 

(fe: fd&r&'zWdn ZmcrfeH, 24 trsgdt 1915, 

US’ 186-87.) 

34. HTcfv 3 - feftpH 1 ", ftrv ins' fvrcft ft ’hhw frrfvvn-i 

ft*- ftg- *5# Jrm- ftst H'<tl«, v? ft ?? »fv ft d^'<±l« 1 

V3rT VdrF c TZ Ht fw Hof ft - , ftlT diJ GTV 3* (T 7 M3 - ?>ft ftl 
OSH'S <S‘«1 H'd »«oc<j rilj'SiH f(JWTddl» feell Vft-feWd till 

’HdldtH S'hI VK dlsJ oT, mT ^3 H 7 ? fes 1 3V dfcT ftl 
H'S S’tt gtg- eft o(Hd dzl cT, 9"ft ft" 0S'i aid HU 7 3T3" ftl 

(ddWgtT: 1 IW 1916, US' 238-39.) 

iis fysl Jft WVtT 7 Hdl H'd 1 , H'd Ht fes V 7 *^ ftft I 

^75-3- UsT? rft ftcr tt 7 mws- h 7 , fe? mr 7 ft vft ft# 1 

(# 3 -: /ftft ^cT&nt, ftw- HTft, shw 1916, W 276.) 


‘History’ In Popular Movements : 'Use' Against The British 91 

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tantia Tope and others. But the literature is highly critical 
about the role of Nabha and Patiala states who sided with the British in quelling 
the rebellion. Perpetuation of consequent history being attributed to these 

The other issues in this segment is the use of myth of the 'Golden Age' 
of India and the story of Ramayana where Rama is shown as the symbol of 
fighting injustice and the ultimate victory of good over evil. Coming to the 
contemporary scenario there is reference to the Ghadr Party activists who 
were then facing problems while living in exiles. Role of the liberal leaders of 
the Indian National Congress has been condemned. In this way, these writers 
made use of those developments of our regional and national history which 
have the capacity to challenge the existing scenario of repression, injustice, 
plunder and loot alongwith the provision of alternate model of peace, equality 
and prosperity. Being Sikhs, it was quite natural for them to utilise much of 
their Khalsa heritage which had given continuous battle for survival during its 
process of evolution and consolidation. Thus the urge to live with freedom 
and dignity has been often revived in popular movement against both the alien 
and native slavery and exploitation. 



Amandeep Kaur* 

This paper is an attempt to understand the colonial historiography related 
to the village money-lender in British Punjab with focus on its perception with 
particular emphasis on the origin of the village money-lending as profession, 
the caste and class composition, the social categories depending upon them, 
nature of exchange relationships, the extent of this profession both in terms 
of the money-lenders and the clients, popular perceptions or the social response 
towards the money-lenders, and lastly, the state intervention so far the 
relationship between the people and the money-lender is concerned. 

The study is based on the critical examination of three contemporary 
works viz. : M.L. Darling’s The Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt ( 1 925), 
Rusticus Loquitur or The Old light and the new in the Punjab Village (1930) 
and Wisdom and Waste in the Punjab Village (1934). In order to have 
comparative understanding of the perceptions of contemporary writings and 
the recent research, the book by Navtej Singh, Starvation and Colonialism: 
A study of Famines in the Nineteenth Century British Punjab, 1858-1901 
(1996) and a research paper 'Indebtedness and social conflict: A case study 
of Moneylender-Pdasant relations during 19 th century British Punjab' (April 
1987) have also been examined. 

The contemporary writings cover this institution of agrarian money- 
lending in terms of the relevance of this exchange relationship along with 
focusing on the causes of money lending, Darling appreciates the role of the 
money-lender because it was found that he was most accommodating, easy 
to approach, could deal in cash or kind, involving less formalities and legalities. 
Further, there was no limit to this transaction till the relationship between the 
two worked out well to the extent of return of interest only by the clients; 
there is no distinction of productive or unproductive loan and also the objects. 1 

* Research Scholar, Department of History, Punjabi University, Patiala. 

1 . M.L. Dari ing, The Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt, Manohar Publication, New 
Delhi (Reprint 1977), p. 177. 

Profile of the Village Money-lender in British Punjab 


The popularity of this institution has been expressed in the proverb which 
runs, "without a Guru no salvation, without a Shahukar no reputation”. 2 

These studies also notice the caste and class composition of the 
moneylenders. There is mention of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim moneylenders 
along with the few women money-lenders and even some servants engaged 
in this profession. Among the Hindus there are banias or aggarwals, khatris 
and aroras or kirars. In the south of Punjab, bania dominated and it is perceived 
that this caste was the most subtle and insidious. On their traits it is mentioned 
that they are so committed to their profession that they never allowed their 
growing children to waste their time rather they prefer to teach them lessons 
of arithmetic in money-lending. Further, this caste never preferred to indulge 
in conflict with anybody rather preferred to listen them patiently without 
replying and withdrew. Khatris were common in the central Punjab, they 
were engaged in administration and trades also and because of this they were 
less exacting. They preferred to finance trade than agriculture. These studies 
found that the Aroras, called the kirars, were mainly worst of these categories 
of money-lenders. They were useful servants but exacting masters. They 
were forbidden to wear a turban and could ride only a donkey. But the British 
law armed them with certain powers and they further became oppressive. 
Besides money-lending, the kirars were also engaged in basket making, beating 
out vessels of copper and brass, making mats, working as goldsmiths. Due 
to the business qualities agricultural class feared, hatred and despised them. 3 

Apart from the non-agricultural money-lenders these studies noticed 
the existence and strengthening of the agricultural money-lenders especially 
the Jot Sikhs who either were big landlords or had received the remittances 
from their relatives abroad. 4 In 1926-27, it was found that among the 
agricultural money-lenders 49% were Hindus, 45% were Sikhs and 6% were 
Mohammedans. Emigration, soldiering and high prices and the Punjab Land 
Alienation Act 1901 strengthened the agricultural moneylenders against non- 
agricultural money-lenders. 5 There is mention of the women engaged in this 
trade. According to sociological distinction there were fifty women in village 
Attari, out of which six or seven were jats and rest were khatris or aroras. 

2. Ibid, p. 195. 

3. M.L. Darling, Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and debt, Manohar Publication, New Delhi 
(Reprint 1977) pp. 176-178. 

4. M.L. Darling, Wisdom and Waste In The Punjab Village, Oxford University Press, London 
1934, pp. 103-104. 

5. M.L. Darling, Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt, Manohar Publication, New 
Delhi (Reprint 1977), pp. 176-77. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

Women moneylenders were also present in village Kasel and Bhakna. In the 
later village, only two women joined this occupation because one’s husband 
was weak and other’s was a drunkard. They did not use to keep accounts. 
They gave loans against jewellery and rate of interest was same as was 
charged by men. 6 It has also been noticed by these studies that in central 
Punjab the village menial was a frequent lender of money. 7 It indicated the 
changing pattern of occupations with the joining of barber and carpenter in 
this profession. 8 

Coming to the rates of interest the studies reveal that the rates of interest 
were comparatively less in urban area than rural and it was because of the 
trouble and risk, character of classes and the very nature of transactions. The 
general rate of interest was 18.75% or 25%. Most of the advances were 
made in cash but up to 5% of recovery was acceptable in grain and cattle. 
The grain was carried off from threshing floor or taken from peasant’s house 
at a price fixed by the consent of the moneylender. If surety was taken the 
grain was weighed at threshing floor and taken to surety’s house to guard 
him against laws. But sureties were taken only when client was bad. The rate 
of interest for unsecured loans was 25% and against jewellery 18.75%. In a 
young colony, moneylender borrowed good part of his trading capital from 
the market commission agents at 9% to 12% and lent it out at 18.75% to 
25%. Rate of interest for tenants was 37.5%. 9 However further, it was noticed 
that larger debt was incurred by larger owner of lands. Due to lack of security, 
servants borrowed less and it was also found that in central Punjab 80% of 
land-owners were in debt in 1930. 10 The British perspective justifies the rate 
of interest taken by these money-lender classes in comparison to British rate 
of interest and claims that English money-lender Act 1 927 allows the maximum 
of 48% rate of interest. Viewed in this way, rates prevailing in Punjab were 
not excessive so far these were honorably applied." They used to keep loose 
accounts and debt was misrepresented in books. Full year’s interest was 
charged although loan was taken for few months. 12 

6. Ibid., p. 205. 

7. M.L. Darling, Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt , Manohar Publication, New 
Delhi (Reprint 1977), p. 191. 

8. M.L. Darling, Wisdom and Waste In The Punjab Village, Oxford University Press, London 
1934, p. 271. 

9. M.L. Darling, Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt, Manohar Publication, New 
Delhi (Reprint 1977), p. 182. 

10. M.L. Darling, Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt, Manohar Publication, New 
Delhi (Reprint 1977), p. 41. 

11. M.L. Darling, Rusticus Loquitur, Oxford University, Press, London, p. 327. 

12. M.L. Darling, Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt, Manohar Publication, New Delhi 
(Reprint 1977), pp. 190-192. 

Profile of the Village Money-lender in British Punjab 


These studies also highlight the purpose of taking loans by the classes 
discussed above. It was observed that the peasant classes borrowed money 
for litigation, absence of market, expenditure on jewellery, famine conditions, 
expenditure on marriage and funeral, cattle mortality, bride purchasing, 
fecklessness of people, fatal facility of credit by shahykars, over-population 
due to exceptional fertility etc. 13 Darling opined that the banks dealt with 
short term loans only. For sinking well, building house, buying land, repaying 
old debts etc. long term loans were needed. For that peasants had to approach 
the moneylenders. His doors remained opened even after the door of bank 
closed. 14 It has been further noticed by these studies that Sialkot was one of 
the highly indebted districts whereas Ferozepur was the prosperous one. In 
former case, people borrowed because of their poverty and in later case 
people borrowed for futile expenditures. 15 

These studies further observe that with land becoming commodity the 
money-lending classes began to accept land as mortgage, a surety against 
repayment of loans. Earlier, only the jewellery was mortgaged but with the 
increase in the value of land, mortgages raised to 50000 a year in 1890s as 
compared to 15000 a year in 1 870s. Also the area under mortgage was 385000 
acres during 1884-88 comparing to 165000 acres during 1875-78. 16 

In observing the relationship of moneylender and peasant it has been 
found that the moneylenders were reluctant to file the case against the debtors 
and preferred to settle the issues at mutual level. Now coming to the perception 
about the relationship between the classes of moneylenders and peasants, 
these studies perceive that the relationships were of mixed character, which 
is neither good nor bad. 17 There is mention of different rates from — zamindars 
and commission agents depending upon assurance of return and circumstances 
of loan payment, 18 

So far the mechanism of the transaction is concerned it is observed 
that in the south-east of Punjab not even a single account book was available 
which did not include few thumb marks where the amount due was left 

13. Ibid., pp. 29-104. 

14. M.L. Darling, Rusticus Loquitur, Oxford University Press, London, p. 325. 

15. M.L. Darling, Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt, Manohar Publication, New Delhi 
(Reprint 1977), pp. 71-72. 

16. Ibid, p.174. 

17. M.L.Darling, Wisdom and Waste In The Punjab Village, Oxford University Press, London 
1934, p. 147. 

18. M.L. Darling, Wisdom and Waste InThe Punjab Village, Oxford University Press, London 
1934, pp. 174-75. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

blank. As a money-lender was also a grain-dealer, he used to manipulate both 
sides of account by over-valuing or under-valuing the produce as suited him 
best. It was recorded that in Salt Range.34 moneylenders were murdered in a 
year. In Shahpur colony, a money-lender was killed by client’s son. 19 In Attack, 
there was the well-known case of a moneylender who was way-laid in a 
solitary place and killed. His hands and feet were cut off and strapped on to 
his pony, which was left to find its way home alone. 20 The murder of these 
moneylenders created fear in the minds of shahukars of the neighbourhood 
villages to leave the villages and they began to move to the cities. 21 

Zamindars did not repay loan within six months and in bad harvest 
money is not repaid even in a year’s time and in droughts probably full amount 
of loan would not be repaid. In Hissar, the condition was worst, as three 
moneylenders out of four lent all they had but could get back nothing. It made 
their condition even worst than the peasants. Although, repayment of a debt 
was religious duty for Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, the repayment of money 
was not common among peasants. In spite of this, moneylenders had 
sympathetic attitude towards peasants because they understood that they 
could survive only if they would please the cultivators. 22 Darling remarked 
that peasants were bad in repaying and because of that shahukars charged 
higher rate of interest and the same varied from person to person depending 
on the repayment of loan. He tried to justify that shahukars were not oppressive 
but the peasants were bad dealers of money. He also suggested peasants that 
they had to be punctual in repayment of loans instead of over-postponing it. 23 
In majority of the cases, the studies reveal that the shahukars and the peasant 
classes commonly share the family and the societal functions. 24 

Lastly coming to the state intervention in the relationship between these 
two, it is observed that prior to the British rule there were two constraints on 
moneylenders: the village community and the apathy of the state towards 

19. M.L. Darling, Wisdom and Waste In The Punjab Village, Oxford University Press, London 
1934, pp. 16, 54, 148. 

20. M.L. Darling, Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt, Manohar Publication, New Delhi 
(Reprint 1977), p. 194. 

21. M.L. Darling, Wisdom and Waste In The Punjab Village, Oxford University Press, London 
1934, p. 17. 

22. M.L. Darling, Wisdom and Waste In The Punjab Village, Oxford University Press, London 
1934, pp. 174-175, 148-149. 

23. M.L. Darling, Rusticus Loquitur, Oxford University Press, London, p. 327. 

24. M.L. Darling, Wisdom and Waste In The Punjab Village, Oxford University Press, London 
1934, p. 175. 

Profile of the Village Money-lender in British Punjab 


recoveiy. 25 But under British rule, with the existence of legal courts, enabled 
the money-lending class with power of exercising law against security to 
repayment of their loans. Also the weakening of the village community and 
land becoming a commodity enhanced their powers. In this way land began 
to be transferred to non-agricultural classes. An effort was made by the state 
with the enactment of the Land Alienation Act 1901, which forbade the transfer 
of the land to these commercial classes but the pressure of borrowing money 
remained in existence and forced these classes to go to the agricultural 
moneylenders. 26 In order to diffuse the crisis the government of Punjab passed 
the Regulation of Account Act 1937, which necessitated the creditors to 
prepare different statements of each debtor about loan and rate of interest. 
But the account prepared up to 1937 did not come under the preview of this 
act. Moreover, Agricultural moneylenders were illiterate and were unable to 
keep accounts. Women moneylenders also did not use to keep accounts. In 
India other classes of moneylenders used different scripts. Calligraphy experts 
were required to have knowledge of all these scripts. 27 

Thus these studies perceive this institution of money-lending as a vital 
organization in the British agrarian structure. There is also identification of 
the various classes and castes involved in the transaction of money-lending. 
Although the causes of borrowing money, classes of rural society taking 
loans and the rate of interest, mode of repayment, mechanism involved by the 
shahukars to exploit, the social and popular perception of the money-lending 
and the peasant classes, the nature of state intervention. And lastly, the few 
neutral commentaries underlying the cordial relationship between these two 
classes, barring a few instances of strained relationship and also the emergence 
of the new class of agricultural money-lenders. 

In this sense these studies become not only pioneer to understand the 
working of the institution of money-lending during the British Punjab but also 
provide certain perspective on the issue which later on proved very crucial to 
the political economy of the British set-up as has been observed in the recent 
research by Navtej Singh in his book, Starvation and Colonialism: A Study of 
Famines in the Nineteenth Century British Punjab, 1858-1901 (1996) and in 

25. M.L. Darling, Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt, Manohar Publication, New Delhi 
(Reprint 1977) p. 170. 

26. M.L. Darling, Rusticus Loquitur, Oxford University Press, London, pp. 171-174. 

27. M.L. Darling, Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt, Manohar Publication, New Delhi 
(Reprint 1977), pp. 200, 204-205. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

the paper, 'Indebtedness and social conflict: A case study of Moneylender- 
Peasant relations during 19th century British Punjab' (April 1987). 

This recent research explores the issue of rural credit facilities in terms 
of economic and socio-political ramifications. Navtej Singh in his book has 
examined the working of the institution of money-lending in colonial agrarian 
structure. He has identified the restraints put on the profession of money- 
lending under Sikh rule and changed nature of this exchange relationship 
under British rule by focusing on the emergence of the various factors which 
compelled the agricultural classes to enhance their dependence on him and 
also increasing the powers of this, shahukar class with the assistance of 
British legal enactments. As a result the transfer of the land to the non- 
agricultural moneylender class became very grave leading to the enhanced 
indebtedness and consequent poverty. 28 In western Punjab the situation became 
grave, which forced the British government to appoint S. S. Thorburn in 
1870 to look into the causes of the resentment, which was developing in a 
political sensitive manner. Because of the demographical profile of the west 
Punjab where Hindus Were mainly engaged in business of money-lending and 
majority of Muslim peasants were their victims. 29 

The report of Thorburn compelled the British government to enact the 
Punjab Land Alienation of Land Act 1901. It forbade the non-agricultural 
classes but the new class of agricultural money-lenders emerged and 
strengthened because of this act. 30 It is sured that the British government 
could handle this situation temporarily with creation of this new class of 
moneylenders yet the situation in the western Punjab remained more or less 
the same which ultimately became the economic basis for demand of Pakistan. 
However these contemporary studies on the part of British administrators 
cum writers appear to have been observing the institution as it is appearing to 
them in their ways of observations. These studies do not reflect on the future 
socio-political ramifications of this exchanged relationship in a province, which 
was marked by the demographic and cultural variations. Hence it failed to 
check a dominant under-current of the demand for separate country by the 
alleged victimized cultural group. 

28. Navtej Singh, Starvation and Colonialism: A Study of Famines in the Nineteenth Century 
British Punjab, 1858-1901, National Book Organization 1996, pp. 17, 30-31,218-220. 

29. Navtej Singh’s paper, ‘Indebtedness and social conflict: A case study of Moneylender 
Peasant relations during 19 th century British Punjab’, Panjab University Research 
Bulletin (Arts), Chandigarh, April 1987, p. 216. 

30. Navtej Singh, Starvation and Colonialism: A Study of Famines in the Nineteenth Century 
British Punjab, 1858-1901, National Book Organization 1996, p. 224. 


Baljit Singh * 

The Muslim League party came on the political platform to safeguard 
the rights of Muslims who were considered economically and politically 
backward. In the Punjab, the Muslims were in majority, but they had been 
granted the right of separate electorate. However, the Muslim League was in 
a weak position even before the elections of 1937. M.A. Jinnah had failed to 
gain ground politically and he kept swearing: “I shall never come to the Punjab 
again, it is such a hopeless place”. 1 However, the election of 1946 gave a new 
lease and vigour to the Muslim League. The present paper attempts to delineate 
the rise of the Muslim League during the elections of 1946 in the Punjab. 

The Sikander-Jinnah Pact (1937), the Lahore Resolution (1940), the 
Cripps Mission (1942), The Gandhi-Jinnah Talks (1944), Rajaji Formula 
(1944), and the Shimla Conference (1945) strengthened the position of the 
Muslim League as the only political organization that could speak on behalf of 
the Muslims. They had established their primary branches in rural and urban 
areas and had done various types of propaganda. In May 1945, its members 
were about one and half lakh. 2 In November 1945, its membership swelled to 
five lakh. 3 The paramount concerns of the Muslim League during the election 
were (a) Pakistan; and (b) the Muslim League as the only representative and 
authoritative organization of the Muslims. 4 The Muslim League party selected 
best candidates. M.A. Jinnah stated that, “we must see our best men are 
returned and the selection of the candidates is made on the basis of merit, 
justice and fairplay. Only those candidates were selected whose local support 
was known to be strong, and they were selected with no regard to their 

* Research Scholar, Deptt. of History, G.N.D. University, Amritsar (Pb.)-143 005. 

1 . Amaij it Singh, Punjab Divided : Politics of the Muslim League and Partition ( 1 935-4 7), 
Kanishka Publishers, New Delhi, 2001, p. 47. 

2. Ian Talbot, Punjab and the Raj (1849-1947), Manohar, New Delhi, 1998, p. 162. 

3. Ayesha Jalal, Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam 
Since 1850, OUP, New Delhi, 2001, p. 453. 

4. N.I. Singh, Communal Violence in the Punjab (1947), Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, G.N.D. 
University, Amritsar, 2002, p. 32. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

records of past service or the present commitment to the League.” 5 

They had emphasised on the issue of Pakistan. Field Marshal Viscount 
Wavell said to Lord Pathick-Lawrence that “during my tour in the Punjab, I 
was told that the Muslim League's propaganda of Pakistan was having a 
disturbing effect. The League speakers are apparently saying that these elections 
will decide whether there is to be a Pakistan or not, and if the League wins the 
Punjab province no further vote by legislative or plebiscite will be needed”. 6 

It was further argued that every vote in favour of the Muslim League 
means Pakistan and every vote against it means Hindu Raj. 7 Lord Wavell 
during his visit to the Punjab, founded ‘considerable uneasiness’ as the attitude 
of the Muslim League seemed that the forthcoming election would decide 
Pakistan issue once and for all. Thus, Pakistan would become an immediate 
reality. 8 They succeeded to achieve the support to the pirs and biradri leaders, 
who were with the Unionist Party during the earlier elections. The ulamas 
and pirs issued fatwas for their disciples and made personal tours among their 
murids and used the yearly urs at their shrines to appeal for voters. 9 They 
threatened the voters that if they did not back the League they would cease to 
be Muslims, their marriages would be invalid, if this did not frighten them, 
then they were told they would face excommunication, including a refusal to 
allow their dead to be buried in Muslim graveyards; and debarred from joining 
in mass Muslim prayers. 10 Sadat Khan in the Nankana Sahib constituency 
exhorted the electors that the Muslim League was fighting for Islam while the 
Unionists represented complete Kuffar. Raja Gaznafar Ali Khan said at 
Mangtawala that if you vote against the Muslim League candidate you will be 
out from the Muslim brotherhood. 11 The Aligarh Muslim University started a 
special election training camp for students in August 1 945 and one thousand 

5. The Civil and Military Gazette , September 1, 1945; See also Ayesha Jalal, The Sole 
Spokesman, Jinnah the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan, Cambridge University 
Press, Cambridge, 1985, p. 149. 

6. Nicholas Mansergh (ed), The Transfer of Power (1942-47), Vol. VI, UBS Publishers, 
New Delhi, 1976, p.377. 

7. V.V. Nagarkar, Genesis of Pakistan, Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1975, p. 396. 

8. Viscount Wavell to Lord Pathik-Lawrence, New Delhi, 25 October, 1945; The Transfer 
of Power, Vol. VI, p. 401. 

9. David Gilmartin, "A Magnificent Gift : Muslim Nationalism and the Election Process 
in Colonial Punjab", Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 40, No. 3, 
July, 1998, p. 427. 

1 0. Sir B. J. Glancy to Viscount Wavell, 1 6 January 1 946; The Transfer of Power, Vol. VI, p. 
807; See also, Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman, p. 147A 

1 1 . The Punjab Gazette, July 26, 1 946, p. 556. 

The Elections of 1946 In Punjab And The Muslim League 101 

student leaders were in constant touch with M.A. Jinnah. The League would 
provide at least one trained worker for every 1000 voters. 12 “Pakistan is more 
important than examination, every Muslim student should participate in the 
election campaign even at the sacrifice of their academic year”, said Nawabzada 
Liaquat Ali Khan. 13 “Diplomas, degrees and examinations are not as important 
as the ideal of Pakistan for which the Muslim 'nation' at present was fighting. 
The present occasion demands sacrifices from Muslim students and I am 
sure they would make it.” 14 Women of noble parentage went from door to 
door preaching their fellow-women to cast their own votes, as well as to 
persuade their husbands, brothers, sisters and other relatives to vote for M.A. 
Jinnah and Pakistan. 15 Begum Shah Nawaz observed, “Muslim women are 
fully alive to their responsibilities and are more important for Pakistan than 
man”. A play entitled 'Pakistan', directed by Mis? Rifat Bashir-ud-din was 
staged. 16 

The Muslim League got political support in the villages by tiying to the 
peasants in overcoming economic problems. The primary motive of the League 
workers was to implant a belief in the simple rural folk that the Unionist party 
was not only responsible but the main cause of all their problems and the best 
alternative for them was Pakistan. 17 The Unionist party was losing political 
ground. By the end of 1945, the Muslim League had captured the support of 
one third of the Unionist Party’s Assembly members. The Provincial League 
was more active compared with other political parties, they held forty to fifty 
meetings a day all over the province, almost a statement a day was issued 
from the League office in Lahore. 18 M.A. Jinnah sought an answer to Muslims 
to the questions, “Are you a true believer or an infidel and a traitor”? However, 
against this slogan the Unionists had no spectacular battle ciy. 19 The Muslim 
League canvassers asked people, are you giving your vote to the mosque or 

12. Anita Inder Singh, The Origin of the Pakistan and India (1936-1947), OUP, New Delhi, 
1983, p. 132. 

13. The Civil and Military Gazette, 13 December 1945. 

14. Ibid. 

15. A.B. Rajput, Muslim League : Yesterday and Today, Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, 1948, 
p. 99. 

16. Civil and Military Gazette, December 27, 1945. 

17. Raghuvendra Tanwar, "The Rise and the Fall of the Punjab Unionist Party : Traditional 
Religious and Biradri Support Factor", The Panjab Past and Present, Vol. XXVII, 
Punjabi University Patiala, October, 1991, p. 139. 

18. Amaijit Singh, Punjab Divided: Politics of Muslim League and Partition (1935-47), p. 160. 

19. SirB.J. Glancy to Viscount- Wavell, Shimla, 16August 1945; The Transfer of Power, Vol. 
VI, p. 71; See also, Satwant Singh, Punjab Politics 1937-1947, Unpublished Ph.D. 
Thesis, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1994, p. 207. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

the temple? 20 Against nationalist Muslims, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali said, "if the 
so called nationalist Muslims think there are defects in the League, they should 
join the League and remove these." 21 Feroz Khan Noon underlined that Islam 
is inherent in what we preach from the Muslim League platform. Islam is not 
merely a creed, but our conduct of life. 22 A poster depicted the nature of the 
campaign : 23 

Musalmano imtihan ka waqt aa giya 
Is haq aur Batal ki Jang me 

Din Duniya 

Ek tarf iman aur zamir hai. Dusri tarf murabba aur jagir hai. 

Ek tarf dindari aur imandari hai. Dusri tarf nawabdari aur zaildari hai. 
Ek tarf haq koshi-hai. Dusri tarf sufaid poshi hai. 

Ek tarf Pakistan hai. Dusri tarf Kufirstan hai. 

Ek tarf Hinduon ki gulami se Dusri tarf ek admi ki Izat bachane ka 
bachne ka sawal hai. sawal hai. 

Ek tarf kalma parhne walon ko Dusri tarf buton ki parastish biradri 
ikatha kame ki baat hai. aur zat-pat hai. 

Ek tarf Mohd. (peace be upon Dusri tarf Baldev Singh ate Khizar 
him) wa Ali (Razi Allah ha) ki Hayat hai. 
zat ba barkat hai. 

Ek tarf ab Musalmanon ke sir Dusri tarf nokar-shahi ka danda, aur 
jor bethne aur aukhe waqat ka afsaron ka khof aur haras hai. 
pass hai. 

Ek tarf sabz Jhande ki laj hai. Dusri tarf Khizri Wazarat ka raj hai. 
Ek tarf Muslim League aur Dusri tarf congress aur unionists ke 
Pakistan ke Chahne wale hain. sarahne wale hain. 

Another poster declared that a vote to a Muslim League Candidate would 
be a vote to the Khuda. 2 * 

The Indian National Congress, which was the oldest party, did not have 
any noticeable impact in the Punjab. Perhaps its major weakness was the split 
among its leaders which was noticed even during the elections of 1946. 25 
Secondly, all the important leaders of the Congress were jailed during the Quit 

/ 20. D.P. Mishra, India's March to Freedom, Har-Anand Publication, New Delhi, 2001, p. 


21. 77ie 7h'Z>wrce, 25 September, 1945. 

22. Civil and Military Gazette, January 23, 1946. 

23. The Punjab Gazette, June 21, 1946, p. 295. 

24. The Punjab Gazette, June 28, 1946, p. 355. 

25. The Civil and Military Gazette, August 28, 1945. 

The Elections of 1946 In Punjab And The Muslim League 103 

India Movement. Due to this, they could not organize their party at local level. 
The Akali Party stressed only one issue that it was to resist the demand of 
Pakistan 26 and to get freedom for the countiy and the Panth. 21 Although Akali 
leaders were contesting under the name of the “ Panthic Party’ but despite of 
this they failed to bring all the Sikhs on one platform. The Unionist Party’s 
Premier Khizr Hayat Khan Tiwana failed to maintain control over his own 
party colleagues. During the Second World War they could not pay much 
attention towards the peasants. The Unionist leaders’ propaganda and their 
achievements of previous ministry failed to attract the voters. 28 

In the election, the Muslim League captured 75 seats out of 86 (including 
two candidates who had returned unopposed). It won eleven of the urban 
and 74 (out of the 75) rural constituencies. In Ambala and Jullundhur divisions, 
it captured 21 and 22 respectively of the 24 seats. Only in the rural Rawalpindi 
division its progress had been slightly checked where it could win only 14 of 
the 2 1 seats. 29 The total votes polled of the Muslim League party were 6,80,823, 
which were 75.26 per cent. 30 The Unionist Party polled just 1216 votes of 
6,59,396 total Sikh votes. 31 Out of 175 seats, the Unionist party could win 
only 19 seats. 32 The Unionists contested 69 Muslim seats and polled 2,78,463 
votes which is 26.81 per cent. 33 The Akalis captured 22 seats. Out of total 
4,20,001 polled Sikh votes the Panthic candidates got 1,80,690 votes. 34 In 
the election, the Indian National Congress party emerged as the second largest 
party with 5 1 seats out of total 1 75 seats. 35 The Congress party polled 4,77,765 
votes, the total 23.1 per cent votes. 36 The Communist party, the Hindu 
Mahasabha and Ahrars failed to capture even a single seat. The question 
whether the Muslim League saved Islam is not worth asking, but it was clear 

26. The Tribune, 2 October, 1945. 

27. PremSandesh, 31 October, 1945. 

28. Sho Kuwajima, Muslims , Nationalism and The Partition : 1946, Provincial Elections in 
India, Manohar, New Delhi, 1998, p. 184. 

29. Ian Talbot, Punjab and the Raj, pp. 2 1 9-20. 

30. The Tribune, 4 February, 1946; Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim 
League and the Demand for Pakistan, p. 150; Kirpal Singh "Genesis of Pakistan", The 
Panjab Past and Present, Vol. V, Part II, October 1971, p. 407. 

31. Fateh, 13, April 1946. 

32. Kirpal Singh, The Partition of Punjab, p. 23. 

33. Sho Kuwajima, Muslims, Nationalism and the Partition, pp. 227-28; The Tribune, 4 
Feb., 1946. 

34. Fateh, April 13, 1946. 

35. Ibid, Feb. 7, 1946. 

36. Sho Kuwajima, Muslims, Nationalism and the Partition , pp. 227-28. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

that Islam did save the Muslim League. 37 M.A. Jinnah sent a congratulatory 
message to the Nawab of Mamdot, “Muslims of Punjab have proved that 
Punjab is the foundation stone of Pakistan. The Muslim League is the only 
representative party of the Muslims of India.” 38 The Muslim officials in the 
North-West Gurgaon desired and helped the success of Muslim League 
candidates. 39 v 

The election of 1 946 proved that the Muslim League was the only political 
party of the Muslims that could speak on behalf of the Muslims. The religious 
appeals, the Pakistan issue and weak position of other political formations 
were more effective to make the party strong in the elections of 1946. Only 
the Muslim League leaders organized the party in urban and rural areas after 
the 1937 election under one leadership which other political parties could not 
do. The pirs played a crucial role.The Muslim League received greatest number 
of votes (80 per cent) in such areas as Jhang, Multan, Jhelum and Kamal 
where it had won over the leading pirs. It also got 77 per cent votes in 
Montgomery district and 70 per cent votes in Lyallpur district. 40 The Nawab 
of Mamdot, the leader of the Muslim League, contended that his party should 
be given the right of being invited to form a ministry. Mulana A.K. Azad and 
M.K. Gandhi opposed this move. 41 In fact. Sir B.J. Glancy greeted with relief 
the Muslim League's failure to form a Ministry. 42 The Muslim League bitterly 
opposed the Unionist-Congress-Akali Coalition Ministry. 43 However, the election 
of 1946 proved that the Muslim League was the Muslim's party in reality 
which remained in isolation in the political sphere. The League's appropriation 
of Islam was nearly perfect and so its dividend. 

37. N.I. Singh, Communal Violence in the Punjab (1 947), p. 32. 

38. Araaijit Singh, Punjab Divided, Politics of the Muslim League and Partition (1 935-47), 
pp. 170-171. 

39. The Punjab Gazette, July 12, 1946, p. 436. 

40. Ian Talbot, Punjab and the Raj, p. 217. 

41. B.J. Glancy's Secret Communication, New Delhi, 11 March 1946; The Transfer of 
Power, Vol. VI, p. 1 1 37; M.A. Azad, India Wins Freedom, Orient Longman, New Delhi, 
1988, pp. 138-39. 

42. Ian Talbot, Punjab and the Raj, p. 226. 

43. The Tribune, April 11, 1946. 


Sukhjit Kaur* 

During the elections of 1945-46, Baldev Singh had occupied a prominent 
place in the Punjab politics. He was not only confined to Punjab politics but 
also started taking part actively in Indian politics. The Punjab politics in 1946- 
47 entered into crucial and critical phase. The Congress on the other hand 
was in favour of united India. The Sikh leaders, who were basically against 
the partition of the Punjab started demanding a separate Sikh State. 1 

Sardar Baldev Singh asked for United India, when asked to specify 
how ‘Khalistan’ could be founded. He replied that it would be the Punjab 
excluding Multan, Rawalpindi divisions with an approximate boundary along 
with Chenab river. 2 In fact it was viewed that all Sikh leaders were out to race 
for offices and none cared to look after the Sikh interests. About Sardar 
Baldev Singh, Sir. B. Glancy, Governor of Punjab wrote to Linlithgow, “There 
are signs that Baldev Singh is inclined to attack increasing value to his 
appointment as minister and that he is less likely to run over the ropes”. 3 

A similar demand for a Sikh state was made which was to include a 
substantial majority of the Sikh population and their shrines with provision 
for the transfer and exchange of population and property. Even Akalis 
threatened to start a triangular Morcha against the Government, the Congress 
and Muslim League, the three parties in the proposed interim government. All 
parties meeting of Sikhs was attended by 800 Sikhs representing Akalis, 
Namdharis, Ramgarhias, Nihangs, Chief Khalsa Diwan, All India Sikh Youth 
League, Sikh Students Federation and Singh Sabhas. It declared that Cabinet 
Mission proposals were wholly unacceptable to the Sikhs as they did not 
have their consent. 4 Meanwhile the Congress Working Committee, presided 
over by Jawaharlal Nehru on the 9 th August, had accepted the invitation extended 

* Research Scholar, Deptt. of History, Punjabi University, Patiala. 

1. N.N. Mitrafed.), Indian Annual Register (1929-47), Calcutta, 1970, p. 357. 

2. Gurmit Singh, Failures ofAkali Leaders, Sirsa, 1981, p. 35. 

3. V.P. Menon, The Transfer of Power in India, Vol. Ill, Princeton, 1 957, p. 248. 

4. The Tribune, June 11, 1946. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

by the Viceroy to form an interim government. 5 Invitations were issued to six 

Jawahar Lai Nehru; C. Gopalacharya; Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel; Dr. 
Rajinder Prasad and Jagjivan Ram, President, Depressed Classes League; and 
five Muslim Leaguers - Mohd. Ali Jinnah; Liaquat Ali Khan; Mr. Asif Ali and 
Sir Shafaat Ahmad Khan, the remaining three were Baldev Singh, John Matthai 
and Mr. Cooverji Hormusji Bhabha to join interim government. 6 On the 2 nd 
September, Sardar Baldev Singh, Minister for development in the coalition 
Government of the Punjab, took over the portfolio of defence. In the view of 
S. Baldev Singh, the best solution to the political problems of the country was 
United India with safeguard for minorities in the four of weighed communal 
proportions in the Legislature. He argued that : 

a readjustment of provincial boundaries could secure a large proportion 
of interest for the Sikhs and division of the Punjab between a Pathanistan 
and Sikhistan might become the object. 7 

On June 1 946, the Viceroy and Cabinet Mission released a joint statement 
underlying the need for strong and representative interim government. 8 Attlee 
assured Sardar Baidev Singh that the Constituent Assembly would face its 
problems in quite a different spirit. 9 Despite Atlee’s assurance the Panthic 
Board decided to boycott the election to Constituent Assembly in keeping 
with its decision to Cabinet Mission Plan. On July 11, 1946, 54 nomination 
papers were filled for 28 seats of Constituent Assembly allotted to Punjab. Of 
these 20 nominations were made for the general seats of whom seven were 
Congress, two were Hindu Unionists and five were independent. The total 
number of representatives to be elected from the Hindu, Harizan and Christian 
seats was eight only. 10 

For the 16 Muslim seats as many as 28 nomination papers were filled, 
of which 22 were Muslim Leaguers. For the four seats, eight nomination 
papers were filled by Akali nominees ana four by the Congress Sikh M.L.A’s. 
Sikh seats nominees were, S. Baldev Singh (Development Minister, Punjab), 
S. Ujjal Singh (M.L.A.), Bawa Harkishan Singh (Principal, Khalsa College), 
S. Hamam Singh (M. L.A.); Congress Sikh Nominees were— S. Partap Singh 

5. Baldev Raj Nayyar, Minority Politics in the Punjab, Princeton, 1966, p. 93. 

6. S. Gopal, Selected Works oj'Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol. XV, Orient Longman, New 
Delhi, 1982, p. 208. 

7. Kirpal Singh, The Partition of Punjab, Patiala, 1972, p. 144. 

8. H.N. Mitra (ed.), op. cit., p. 202. 

9. V.P. Menon, op. cit., p. 294. 

10. The Tribune, July 12, 1946. 

Partition Issue And Baldev Singh During 1946-47 


(M. L.A.), Member Congress Working Committee, S. Kapur Singh (Deputy 
Speaker), Baba Bachan Singh (M.L.A.), S. Shiv Singh (M.L.A.). 11 

But on 1 5 th July 1 946, Sikhs presented against Cabinet Mission proposals 
and withdrew their nomination papers. S. Baldev Singh and Master Tara Singh 
conveyed that the proposals were wholly unacceptable. Master Tara Singh 
and S. Baldev Singh wrote a letter to Lord Pethick Lawrence on 25 th July, 
1946 asking for clarification on some specific points. Lord Lawrence said 

The estimate of importance of your community would never depend upon 
the number of seats that you hold in the Constituent Assembly. The viceroy 
has told me that he will be glad in view of anxieties you have expressed 
on behalf of your community to discuss the position of Sikhs with the 
leaders of main parties, when the Constituent Assembly has been found 
that interests of the Sikhs should on no account be overlooked . 12 
In this connection J.B. Patel said, “This position has been the position 
of the Congress from the very start”. 13 

The Wardha resolution of the Congress Working Committee was related 
exclusively to the Sikhs and their position in Constituent Assembly. The Working 
Committee reaffirmed that the proposals were unjust to the Sikhs and declared 
the Congress would do all that it could remove the grievances of the Sikhs 
arising from the statement. The deputation that waited upon Congress Working 
Committee at Wardha was given assurance that the question of safeguards 
for the Sikhs in provincial and the sectional sphere would be considered in 
the preliminary meeting of Constituent Assembly. 14 This stand of the Congress 
was presumably based upon the plan of the Cabinet Mission because Sir 
Cripps speaking in House of Commons in the course of India debate dated 
1 8 th July stated : 

It was a matter of great distress to us that they had not received the 
treatment which they deserved as an important section of Indian people. 
The difficulty arises not from any one ’s under estimate of important 
community but from inescapable geographical facts of the situation. 1S 
This statement made by Sir Cripps clearly indicated that special means 
have to be devised by the Constituent Assembly of India for giving the Sikhs 

11. Ibid. 

12. Ibid. 

13. A.I.C.C. Papers, Vide file no. G.K. W.1. 17/12/46. 

14. Ibid. 

15. Ibid. 

April 2007 

108 The Panjab Past And Present 

a strong voice in affairs of Punjab as North-Western Section. In other words 
these means must be available to the Sikhs at the time when sections meet 
after the preliminary meeting of Constituent Assembly for otherwise the 
Constituent Assembly of India would have failed in its duty to devise those 
special means for the protection of the Sikhs. 

Sardar Baldev Singh replied about Panthic Party’s stand in a gathering 
in Khalsa School at Jullundur : 

The Sikh Panthic party stands for the complete freedom of the mother 
land and I assure you that I will not remain a member of it, the moment 
I see that the party has forsaken this high ideal . 16 
The Muslim League passed a resolution on the 29 th June at Bombay 
withdrawing its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission plan and calling upon the 
Muslims to observe the ‘Direct Action Day’ on the Id*'' August to achieve its 
goal of Pakistan. 17 Moreover, the working committee of the Provincial Muslim 
League also decided to launch Civil Disobedience movement including the 
non-payment of taxes and revenue, violation of law and order, boycott of 
non-Muslim trades and the boycott of goods manufactured by the non- 

Direct Action Day resulted in the outbreak of violence in different parts 
of the country. On 16 th August there was an appalling outbreak of voting in 
Calcutta, lasting several days. According to official estimates, about 5,000 
persons were killed and 15,000 injured. These mass scale killings spread like 
a fire from Calcutta to East Bengal, from East Bengal to Bihar and from Bihar 
to the Punjab. Sardar Baldev Singh in a public gathering said that the East 
Bengal and Bihar happenings are the greatest tragedy at this critical juncture. 
He said. 

To kill a person in the name of religion is the lowest type of cowardice 
as the almighty has never enjoined through any religion of the World to 
kill his innocent creatures. We will request all the Communities with 
folded hands to live like brothers and desist from indulging in communal 
riots, but if they do not accede this earnest request, we will bend every 

1 6. The Civil and Military Gazzette, Nov. 2 1 , 1 946. On June 9 and 1 0, 1 946 at Amritsar in 
All-Parties Sikh Conference, A council of action called the Panthic Pratinidhi Board 
was formed and was empowered to take any action it considered fit on behalf of the 
Sikh community. Colonel Niranjan Singh Gill was nominated as the dictator of the 
Panthic Pratinidhi Board. The other members of the Board were Master Tara Singh, 
Baldev Singh, Udham Singh Nagoke, Sarmukh Singh Chamak etc. 

17. Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Vol. II, Princeton, 1966, p. 262. 

Partition Issue And Baldev Singh During 1946-47 


nerve of our being to stop this blood bath and man slaughter by the 
strongest possible means 18 

On 2 nd March 1947 Premier Khizar Hayat Khan resigned in order to 
leave the field clear for the Muslim League to come to such arrangement vis 
a vis the other parties as it might consider best in the interest of the Muslims 
and province. 19 On 4 March a demonstration consisting of non-Muslim league 
section led by students, was organized in Lahore to protest against the offer 
made to Muslim League to form the Government. 20 The demonstration was 
lathi charged and fired upon and lawlessness and communal riots were 
widespread in the province. Thirteen persons were killed and 105 injured. 
Baldev Singh wrote to Wavell on 1 1 March that Muslim League’s attack on 
the coalitions ministry were intended to establish its domination. The Sikhs 
would not accept this and the only solution was division of the Punjab. 

The agitation took a more violent turn after February 1947. On Feb. 26, 
1947 the Panthic Assembly Party in which Master Tara Singh was presented 
by special invitation, appealed the Muslim League to have serious repercussions 
if continued any further. 

Let the Khalsa Panth now realize the gravity of the situation. I expect 
every Sikh to do his duty. We shall live or die, but not submit to Muslim 
domination , 21 

However, Sir Evan Jenkins, the Governor of the Punjab, who did not 
want the fall of Khizar’s ministry, made strenuous efforts to bring about a 
settlement between the Muslim League and the Coalition Government. 
Ultimately, negotiations between the Punjab Government and the Muslim 
League resulted in the conclusion of a compromise on the 26 th Feb. 22 In the 
terms of the settlement, the government agreed to remove the ban on public 
meetings in all places where they were prohibited. It also agreed to release all 
persons detained, under trial or convicted of offences under Section 325 or 
of more serious offences under the Indian Penal Code. Further, it decided to 
bring forward a legislation in the Assembly in order to preserve peace and 
public order in place of the present Punjab safety Ordinance. But as per the 
terms, the ban on processions was to continue as before. 23 The Government, 

1 8. Civil and Military Gazzette, Nov. 2 1 , 1 946. 

19. The Tribune, March 3, 1947. 

20. Ibid., March 5, 1947. 

21. K.C. Gulati, The Akalis : Past and Present, New Delhi, 1974, p. 174. 

22. Fortnightly Report for Punjab for the Second half of February 1947, Home Political, 
File No. 18/2/47, Poll. I. 

23. The Tribune, 27 Feb. 1947. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

accordingly, passed orders for the release of about 1 500 Civil Disobedience 

On contrary to the guess of Khizar, the compromise failed to service its 
purpose. Communal clashes continued unabated and the law and order situation 
went put of control in the Punjab due to mounting anger of the Muslim masses. 
Khizar could not longer withstand the pressure from the League High 
Command. So he, under the influence of the communal bugbear and the 
Muslim League politics, felt so helpless that he resigned from Premiership on 
the 2 nd March without even consulting his non- Muslim colleagues. 24 On the 
same day, he announced that he was taking this step because he felt that His 
Majesty’s Government pronouncement of the 20 th February made it incumbent 
on him to leave the field clear for the Muslim League to come to some 
arrangement with other parties. 25 

The Nawab of Mamdot expressed his desire before the Governor to 
permit him for the formation of a Muslim League Ministry in the Punjab. He 
added that he had the support of 90 members in the Assembly including 
Muslim League 80, other Muslims 3, Scheduled castes 4, Indian Christians 2 
and European l. 25 0n the 3 rd March, the Governor invited the leader of the 
League to explore the possibilities of installing a government either on his 
own or in collaboration with any other party. 27 

A wave of resentment spread through Congress and Akali circles. The 
League could not form a ministry without their co-operation and they were 
determined to withheld it. The Congress and the Akali Party held joint meeting 
in the Assembly chamber to discuss the situation. By mid day of March 1 9, 
1947, according to Macdonald, Home Secretary to Punjab Government, the 
campaign launched by Muslim League resulted in 2049 Hindus and Sikhs 
killed and seriously wounded. 28 The Sikh leader, Master Tara Singh, standing 
on the stairs of the Legislative Assembly building, dramatically unsheathed his 
sword and shouted, 

The time has come when the might of the sword alone shall rule. The 

Sikhs are ready, we have to bring the Muslims to their senses . 29 

24. Ibid. 

25. Fortnightly Report for Punjab for the first half of March 1947, Home Political, File No. 

26. H.N. Mitra (ed.), op. cit., pp. 866-67. 

27. The Tribune, 4 March, 1 947. 

28. K.C. Gulati, op., cit., p. 174. 

29. Mohammad Raza Khan, What Price Freedom, Madras, 1969, p. 222. 

Partition Issue And Baldev Singh During 1946-47 111 

He also raised the slogan ‘Pakistan Murdabad’. 30 When the Governor 
found that the League could not form a ministry without the backing of the 
Hindus and Sikhs, a proclamation was issued on 5 th March under Section 93 
of the Government of India Act of 1 935 transferring all responsibility to the 
Governor. 31 

Lord Louis Mountbattan came to India as Viceroy in March 1947. He 
worked out a compromise after long discussion with the leaders of Congress 
and Muslim League. Baldev Singh also attended the meetings as member of 
council. At a conference in Lahore on April 3, Sikh leaders including Baldev 
Singh and other legislatures unanimously declared that division was the only 
solution of this problem. After a long discussion on April 18, S. Baldev Singh, 
Master Tara Singh and other leaders met the Viceroy and told him that Punjab 
should be partitioned to avoid communal strife and bloodshed. 32 

The Viceroy showed the draft to the leaders of major political parties 
and sought their consent before going to London for securing the approval of 
the Cabinet. It is reported that British Government took only five minutes to 
approve the plan. On his return the Viceroy convened a conference of Indian 
leaders which was held on 2 June and was attended by seven leaders - Nehru, 
Patel, and Kriplani representing the Congress, Jinnah, Liaquat and Abdur Rab 
Nishtar representing the League, and Baldev Singh representing the Sikhs, to 
discuss the Mountbattan plan. Its main provisions were 33 

1 . It provided a procedure to ascertain the will of people living in those 
areas claimed for Pakistan in Punjab, Bengal and Sind. The decision 
was to be taken by the Legislative Assembly of each province. The 
procedure clearly envisaged the division of the two provinces. For, it 
was provided that the Legislative Assembly of these two provinces 
would divide into two sections, one for the members belonging to 
the Muslim majority districts and the other for partition of the province, 
each section would join the Constituent Assembly of its choice. 

2. The Legislative Assembly of Sind would decide which Constituent 
Assembly the province would join. In the N. W.F.P. and in the Sylhet 
district of Assam the decision was to be taken through referendum. 

3 . The Governor General was to prescribe the method of ascertaining 

the will of the people of Baluchistan. 

30. Penderal Moon, Divide and Quit, London, 1 962, p. 77. 

31. The Tribune, 6 March, 1947. 

32. H.N. Mitra (ed.), op. cit., p. 244. 

33. TaraChand, History of Freedom Movement, Vol. IV, New Delhi, 1972, pp. 516-17. 

1 12 The Panjab Past And Present April 2007 

4. There would be election in the parts of the Punjab and Bengal 
and in Sylhet for choosing the representatives to the Constituent 
Assembly. 34 

Initially, there was a proposal of deciding the fate of the Punjab through 
referendum. But it was abandoned because of the opposition of Mieville, the 
Principal Secretary to the Viceroy, and the Governor of the Punjab. Some of 
the objections raised by Mieville were: 

1 . A referendum to electors required a simple, straight forward issue 
that in N.W.F.P. where the question is of joining Pakistan or Hindustan. 
But in the Punjab, the issue of partition would first have to be elected. 

2. If the whole Punjab is asked to vote on partition without defining the 
areas, nearly all Muslims will vote against it, and nearly all Hindus 
and Sikhs for it. 

3. If the two half provinces of the Punjab are asked to vote on partition 
according to the district-wise division adopted in the present plan, 
Muslims and the rest are both likely to vote against it, because neither 
will like the demarcation. Hindus and Sikhs may boycott the referendum. 

4. A referendum in the Punjab would create a dangerous situation in the 
prevailing political atmosphere. 35 

In this connection S. Baldev Singh, in a letter to Jawahar Lai Nehru 
wrote : 

Paragraph Seventh of revised draft announcement implied that on the 
demand even from a single member of Punjab Legislature, the entire 
legislative assembly would meet and decide whether Punjab would 
remain united and which Constituent Assembly the province would join 
as a whole. This amounted to giving a veto to the Muslim majority in 
the legislature. 

In his reply to 2 1 st May 1947, Mieville admitted the ambiguity but claimed 
that paragraph (6) provide a safeguard whereby 

“the members of the two parties of the Legislative Assembly sitting 
separately are to vote on whether or not. The province should be 
permitted if a simple majority of either party votes for partition, then 
division will take place. ” 

Sardar Baldev Singh doubted that the Muslim majority in the Punjab 
Legislature in pursuance of the provision in paragraph, “may refuse to sit in 

34. S.L. Malhotra, From Civil Disobedience to Quit India, Chandigarh, 1979, p. 189. 

35. Ibid. 

Partition Issue And Baldev Singh During 1946-47 113 

any partitioned house as provided for in paragraph (6)". 36 On 26 th May 1 947, 
Mieville informed Nehru that contents of Baldev Singh’s letter had been 
telegraphed to Mountbatten in London, who had replied that the “Paragraph 
in question is being redrafted so as to remain any possible misapprehension as 
to what is meant”. 37 

The plan worked out that the country was to be free but not united. 
India was to be partitioned and a new state of Pakistan was to be created 
alongwith a free India. The Muslim League welcomed the plan as it shattered 
once for all the Congress dreams of ruling over the entire sub-continent. 
Whereas the Sikhs were between the devil and the deep sea. The partition of 
the Punjab divided their strength and placed them in minority in both areas. 38 

Sir Penderal Moon advocated a Sikh-Muslim accord as a solution of 
the Sikh problem. He wrote to Lord Ismay, the chief of Lord Mountbatten 
staff, “without a Sikh - Muslim Pact there will be chaos in the northern 
India”. 39 During the talks with the Muslim League leaders the Sikh leaders 
insisted on some constitutional rights which Mr. Jinnah would not concede. 
Master Tara Singh and other Akalis insisted that the proposed Sikh state in 
Pakistan should have the right to opt out of Pakistan after some years. Mr. 
Jinnah did not agree to this. Consequently the talk broke down. 40 Baldev 
Singh rightly described the attitude of Mr. Jinnah as that of a salesman who 
wanted to sell a horse without convincing the customer of its good quality by 
trait and always asserted that the horse was a good one. 41 

Ultimately the Sikhs cast their lot with India. This was made clear to 
the authorities in India as is evident from Lord Ismay’s letter dated July 3 1 , 
1947, addressed to Sir Penderal Moon. He writes: 

The Viceroy had an interview with S. Baldev Singh and Giani Kartar 
Singh on 30 *• June. Sardar Baldev Singh said that there was no sign at 
all of either of the majorparties making any concession to the Sikhs 
and I doubt very much whether there will be any settlement between 
them and the Muslims. Indeed all the emphasis at the interview was on 
concessions to be obtained from the Union of India and not from 

36. The Tribune, May 26, 1947. 

37. Ibid. 

38. Fortnightly Report for Punjab for the first half of June 1947, Home Political, File no. 
16/6/47-poll I. 

39. V.P. Menon, op. cit., p. 692. 

40. Kirpal Singh, 'Sikhs and the 1947 Transfer of Power', Journal of Sikh Review, p. 3 1. 

4 1 . Kirpal Singh, op. cit. , p. 32. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

Pakistan . 42 

The Congress Working Committee accepted the Mountbatten Plan. S. 
Baldev Singh accepted the principles of partition as laid down in the plan. He 
urged that care should be taken to meet his community’s aspiration while 
framing the terms of reference for the proposed boundary commission. He 
termed the plan as a settlement rather than a compromise. 

It does not please every body not the Sikh community in any way, but 
it is certainly something worth while let us take it at that . 43 
In the broadcast of the plan. Lord Mountbatten, the then Viceroy said : 

We have careful consideration to the partition of the Sikhs. The valiant 
' ' community forms about one eighth of the population of Punjab but it is 
disturbing that any partition of that province will inevitably divide it. 
All of us who have the good of the Sikh community at heart are very 
sorry to think that partition of Punjab, which the Sikhs themselves 
desire; cannot avoid splitting them to a greater or lesser extent. The 
exact degree of the split will be left to the boundary Commission. 
Akali party described Mountbatten plan as unsatisfactory and 
disappointing in several respects. They stated that there was no positive 
provision for giving the Sikhs a homeland and their deserved status or political 
power nor had they been armed with means to safeguard their rights in 
Constitution. Akali Dal in a joint Conference of the Shiromani Akali Dal and 
Panthic Pratinidhi Board on June 12, 1947 disapproved the scheme for division 
of India into two sovereign states. 44 

The members of Punjab Legislative Assembly met into two parts. The 
leader of Congress party, Bhimsen Sachar and Feroze Khan Noon, on behalf 
of the Muslim League, demanded a joint sitting of the Assembly. The joint 
session was arranged under the chairmanship of S.D. Singla (Speaker). The 
joint session voted by 91 votes to 77 for a separate constituent assembly for 
Pakistan. All Muslim leaders including 8 unionists, one Anglo Indian and one 
Christian voted for Pakistan. The 77 votes against Pakistan were all cast by 
Hindu and Sikh members. Those of Eastern section decided by 50 votes to 22 
for partition while the Western section opposed partition by 69 votes to 27 
votes. The partition of Punjab was a matter of time. After the decision of 
partition of Punjab by the Assembly the two Unionist leaders, Chaudhri Prem 
Singh and Rao Bahadur Mohan Singh announced their decision to dissolve 

42. V.P. Menon, op. cit., pp. 846-47. 

43. H.N. Mitra, op. cit . , p. 254. 

44. The Tribune, June 13, 1947. 

Partition Issue And Baldev Singh During 1946-47 115 

the unionist party. 45 In order to split the provinces of the Punjab, Bengal, two 
separate boundary commissions were constituted under the Chairmanship of 
Cyeil Radcliffe. On August 15, 1947 India became a free country. Pakistan 
came into existence. 

Thus Sardar Baldev Singh, an important Sikh leader during the partition 
plan, played a very decisive role. As a Development Minister of Punjab, he 
rejected the Cripps proposals on behalf of Sikh Community. In order to 
strengthen the position of Sikh community he even propagated for the war 
effort and helped British in army recruitment. In 1946 he joined hands with 
Congress. In the same year he became the first Indian Defence Minister. 
Baldev Singh was strongly against the Pakistan scheme because he felt Muslims 
would dominate other communities. He met the Cabinet Mission in 1946 as 
well as Lord Mountbatten in 1947 regarding partition plan. He was in favour 
of unity of India. After independence he was appointed as India’s first Defence 

45. The Tribune, June 24, 1947. 


Muttish Singh* 

The partition of Punjab (1947) was a catastrophic event in the 
sub-continent of India. A large number of creative writers have produced 
innumerable books, articles and other literary works on this theme. In their 
writings they mostly focused on the role of violent activity during this phase. 
The number of those people who were conscious about the brotherhood 
feelings at the time is veiy less. The Punjabi novelists worked on this issue 
whole heartedly. The concept of brotherhood appears very clearly in their 
writings. The present paper is an attempt to analyse and highlight those people 
who sacrificed their lives for the suffering humanity and opened up their 
hearts for the victims of this tragic phase. In the writings of Nanak Singh 
( Khoon De Sohale, Agg Di Khed, 1948), Kartar Singh Duggal (Nau Te Mass, 
1951), Amrita Pritam ( Pinjar, 1950), Niranjan Singh Tasneem ( Jadon Saver 
Hoi, 1977), this sentiment of brother-hood clearly flows. 

Despite the communal air blowing across the Punjab on the eve of the 
partition, feeling of centuries old sense of brotherhood was till very much 
there. “Sohne Shah ‘could remember those folk songs wherein the mention 
of the Muslims along with Hindus and Sikhs does come. These were the 
songs of marriage, departure and coming together. How would these people 
erase the names of Hindus and Sikhs, Sohne Shah pondered over again and 
again. The teacher in the school used to be Hindu, panch always a Sikh and 
lambardar, a Muslim. How they could fight among themselves”, Sohne Shah 
said with wide eyes.’ 1 The people commonly talked about deteriorating 

* Research Scholar, Department of History, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjab. 

1. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas (Nail and Flesh), Attar Chand Kapoor and Sons, 
Delhi andAmbala, 1951, p. 133. 

Kartar Singh Duggal started his literary journey with Saver Sar in 1940. He wrote 20 
stories, 10 novels, 2 volumes of poems, 50 plays, autobiography and many more. He 
was bom in 1917 in village Dhamyal in Pothohar, Pakistan. Govt, of India honoured 
him with "Padam Bhushan" and Punjabi University, Patiala awarded him a degree of 
D.Lit. in 1995. His novel Nau Te Mass was published in 1951, which is much greater 
achievement for him. The novel centre round Sohne Shah, a Sikh, village headman of 
Dhamyal in Rawalpindi and his bosom friend AllaDitta's daughter, Satbharai and their 
ordeals as they went from one camp to the other until their eventful arrival in India. 

Punjabis During Partition : Reflections In Punjabi Novels 1 1 7 

conditions of the Punjab. “When people perform Bhangra, they start dancing 
to the tunes. None considers himself Hindu, Sikh and Muslim. We do share 
common songs, folk tales, but we raise slogans of separation. Something 
would must now happen. Such tempo would subside only after destruction .” 2 
People began reflecting back to the past. The more they remember, the 
more they feel perturbed. “The Muslims participated in the functions of the 
Sikhs and Hindus and so did the Sikhs and Hindus during the Eid festivals 
reciprocatingly .” 3 People used to share gifts with their neighboured. They 
gave priority to humanism rather than religion. The novelists highlight the 
sense of the brotherhood in different forms. “The poetry of Mir Galib and 
Iqbal did never preach hatred. How came such level of hatred has been in the 
air? Iqbal did compose a poem on Guru Nanak which none of a Sikh or Hindu 
could pen down ”. 4 Even women were conscious of sense of brotherhood. 
They worked upon this idea in a different way. They were conscious of the 
culture of politics, “when the inkling of riots appeared to Satbharai, she never 
trusted herself what was she listening to .” 5 “This all is the handiwork of the 

2. Niranjan Singh Tasneem, Jadon Saver Hoi (When it Dawned), Singh Brothers, Amritsar, 
2000, p. 93. 

Niranjan Singh Tasneem is noted bilingual writer from this region. He writes both in 
Punjabi and English. Niranjan Singh Tasneem was bom in 1 9 1 9 at Tam Taran. Novelist 
and critic, he summons his life long experience to come up with this thought provoking 
collection of 1 00 essays. Besides 'studies in modem Punjabi Literature and Qadir Yar', 
he has contributed 8 novels and 3 books of literary criticism to Punjabi literature. He 
has been honoured with "Shiromani Sahitkar Purskar" Award in 1995 and "SahitAkademi 
Award" in 1999. He is also a former fellow of Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 
Shimla. In his novel Jadon Saver Hoi, he has portrayed, what happened in Amritsar 
before the five years of partition, which power have collided, what was destroyed and 
what kind of morning occurred from the night ofbondage. Ifthis morning brought happiness, 
on the other hand there was human tragedy. No body could get rid from this pains. 

3. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Mass, p. 5 1 . 

4. Ibid., p. 51. 

5. Nanak Singh, Agg Di Khed (Play of Fire), Nanak Singh Pustakmala, Amritsar, 2000, pp. 
66-67; See also, Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau TeMass, pp. 339-340. 

Nanak Singh (1897-1971) (bom as Hans Raj, on July 4, 1897 in Jehlum district of 
Punjab) was a poet, song writer and novelist in the Punjabi language. His writings in 
support of India's independence movement forced the British to arrest him. While in 
prison, he published several novels which won him literacy acclaim. His great historical 
novel Ik Mian Do Talwaran (one sheath and two swords, 1959) won him India's highest 
literary honour the "SahitAkademi Award" in 1962. His greatest contribution to Punjabi 
fiction is its secularization. His novel Khoon De Sohale and AggDi Khed, which I have 
taken, are two parts of a whole. The former deals with the Muslim butchery of the 
Hindus and later speaks of the Sikh-Hindus massacre by the Muslims during partition 
of Punjab in 1947. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

British. They are getting us fighting among ourselves. Never can flesh be 
separated from the nails. None has heard brothers fighting among themselves. 
Pakistan is for the rich. How does it impact us? We are to go to offices and 
earn a living through pen- pushing. How would landlords have more produce 
from the land of Pakistan”, Satbharai asked herself . 6 

The demand for Pakistan was perturbing the Sikhs and Hindus. “The 
flag of the Muslim League was unfurling on the roof of the opposite house. 
The inmates of the house were the members of the League and they were 
working for the realization of the demand for Pakistan. The inmates were 
asked not to pay house rent to the Sikhs .” 7 People consistently opposed 
communal activities. Even some of the Muslim, landlords reprimanded pirs 
who had come from Rawalpindi to work for Pakistan. Alla Ditta Khan 
considered them enemies . 8 They tried to stop bloodshed by all means. Krishna 
reminded with heavy heart that killing with revenge would increase the 
bloodshed. Where would this process come to an end? she asked. “She claimed 
to have shared the prevailing ethos of three dominant religions: Islam, Hinduism 
and Sikhism. She further emphasized that dual destruction, gang in for the 
last few months cannot be considered the handiwork of Muslims, Sikhs and 
Hindus. She blamed the leaders who had not yet realized the seriousness of 
the situation .” 9 

In a tacit way, Nanak Singh in his work tries to give credence to the 
fact that Muslims initiated riots. The Hindus and Sikhs tried to pay the Muslims 
back in the same coins through violence. Yet he questioned the logic of 
retaliatory strikes leading to mutual destruction unprecedentedly . 10 Mostly, 
the targets had been women and babies. Had it been revengeful fight, it would 
have been among the able-bodied men in a military way. Indiscriminate firing 
would have killed old, sick and women which no religion allows ever." The 
officers insured that not a drop of blood would be permitted to be shed in 
their areas . 12 

The communal virus had permeated down among the masses. People 
were prepared to cut the throats of one or the other. Peace committees and 
common committees were formed with a view to check the incidence of 

6. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas, pp. 339-340. 

7. Niranjan Singh Tasneem, Jadon Saver Hoi, p. 48. 

8. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas, p. 123. 

9. NmakSin$\, Agg Di Khed, pp. 93, 118-119. 

10. Ibid., p. 119. 

11. Ibid, pp. 120-21. 

12. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau TeMaas, pp. 341-354. 

Punjabis During Partition : Reflections In Punjabi Novels 119 

communal riots. “A peace committee was formed in a mohalla. Five persons 
from each community were taken. They took towards direction and from 
that direction, members of the peace committee of that mohalla moved 
forward. They came closer and discussed something and returned back by 
waving their hands that everything was right .” 13 In Amritsar, “Satnam had 
formed a common committee consisting of Sikh, Hindu and Muslim youth. 
In the beginning, it worked well. It could arrange good number of large 
demonstrations and show off friendly gestures .” 14 Satnam had a desire to 
dispel off the fear of communal poison from the minds of the citizens. While 
passing through the bazars, he used to read out these lines: “Citizens of 
Amritsar, in the name of Allah and humanity stop this bloodshed. We all are 
brothers; prevent hooliganism ”. 15 Members of the common committees had 
formed new rules and regulations. New declarations were prepared and 
pronounced. One such declaration was thus: “By the name of my religion, I 
do declare that under communal consideration, I would not do anything which 
would go against the rules of the common committee. I would love and 
respect all the individuals irrespective of their religion. For this, I would dare 
to sacrifice my life”. If there was peace, it was simply due to the common 
committee . 16 Even, the women took lead in this field. “Krishna spoke her 
mind thus: my religion is fellow-beingness. Be the destruction among the 
Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, my religion of fellow-beingness is bound to get 
thrashing. Would it you dare to protect the religion of your sister, she said 
while spreading her folded hands towards the people”. Muslims remained 
indifferent to this common committee. People got attracted to this committee. 
Krishna tried her best to bring as many Muslims in the meeting as possible. 
Satnam could manage three Muslim members for the committee despite many 
efforts . 17 Both Satnam and Krishna put life into the common committee. The 
press and plateforms were used for publicity. New method of making use of 
film screens for communication was applied which proved successful. 
Unfortunately, these steps turned out to be momentaiy. Even the work of 
common (J^unittees and associations (Anje&ps) was proving like ‘a singing 
before a deaFahd dancing before* blind* . Communal virus toad spread deeply 
in the vekfc of the people. Sometimes, common committees were proving a 

13. Niranjan Singh Tasneem, Jadon Saver Hoi, p. 105.- 

14. Nanak Singh, Agg Di Khed, p. 1 2. 

15. Ibid, pp. 9, 41. 

16. Ibid., p. 12. 

17. Ibid., pp. 120, 133. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

sheer force. In fact, communal wrangling had become uncontrolable and 
unbeatable. People began questioning such steps as the communal virus and 
confrontation continued to grow day by day. 18 

People staked their lives for humanism. In certain villages, the Muslims 
defended the Sikhs and Hindus and provided them shelter. In other areas, 
they failed to do so. One fails to understand this secret of nature what to talk 
of human intelligence. The Muslim notables of Dhamyal promised that they 
would not harm anyone. They would protect the needy. 19 In a Muslim 
dominated village, the Muslim notables got together and took oath on Quran, 
that they would not allow anyone to touch the non-Muslims (Khatris) of their 
village. They promised to defend them at the stake of their lives. 20 Similarly, 
the Sikhs promised the Muslims: “Khalsa ji don’t do such a crime. We have 
promised them the safety of their lives. We would be declared murderers”. 21 
Why to retaliate if somewhere houses of Hindus and Sikhs had been put on 
fire. Why to put generation old commonality on the alter of communal zeal. 22 
Everyone was busy to save his near and dear ones by all means. “It was 
decided not to go beyond the boundaries of village. Going beyond was out of 
defence”. 23 People turned to their religious places for gatherings. 

“A news reached Chakwal that a military camp had been opened to 
remove the refugees from distant places. Chaudhary Fazal Karim sent his son 
Fatta to Chakwal. Everyone was hopeful of getting military help by night. 
Defence around the Gurdwara got increased. For a night watch a band of 60- 
70 persons was organized. Chaudhary and his six or seven followers assured 
the non-Muslims every security throughout night". 24 

When the outsiders assaulted the house of Chaudhary Fazal Karim, he 
never hesitated to swear by Quran that he was not protecting any Hindu and 
Sikh. Despite this, the Chaudhary was threatened. 25 Onwards, it became 
difficult to defend the undefendable. The Hindus and Sikhs were asked to 
leave the places and move out to any direction before the attackers rush in. 26 

18. Ibid., pp. 131, 138. 

19. Nanak Singh, Khoon De Sohale (Peans of Blood), Lok Sahit Parkashan, Amritsar, 200 1 , 
p. 205; Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas, p. 45. 

20. Ibid., p.161. 

21. Nanak Singh, AggDi Khed, p. 25. 

22. Niranjan Singh Tasneem, Jadon Saver Hoi, p. 1 1 1 . 

23. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas, pp. 36, 45. 

24. Nanak Singh, Kfcoow Z)e SbAa/e, pp. 218-19,221. 

25. Ibid., pp. 210-12, 226-27. 

26. Ibid., pp. 227-28. 

Punjabis During Partition : Reflections In Punjabi Novels 


Pleadings of the people had no effect on the minds of plunderers and attackers . 27 
Some people had no temptations while others were busy in packing their 
houses with plundered goods. Chaudhary Fazal Karim’s house was vandalised 
for providing protection to the non-Muslims. Chaudhary never repented as 
his pious wish was to save the lives of the innocent . 28 Chaudhary returned the 
cash and costly belongings back to those who confided in him. He cautioned 
his son Fatta to handle such belongings with care while escaping to safe 
place . 29 Some people spent the night in the fields. Some of them were provided 
shelter in the homes of God- fearing persons. At an opportune time, some of 
the protected and defenceless and especially children of tender age were 
handed over to the moving caravans of refugees . 30 Some took the responsibility 
of sending refugees across the border. The plunderers had the lamps in their 
hands. Escapees cautiously treaded the path to avoid identity. The defenders 
were fully armed . 31 Satnam had the duty to send two Muslim girls to Lahore. 
He had a jeep and three armed officials. He did his job religiously . 32 

During separation, people expressed pain and pangs. They swore by 
their Gods to meet again. Some wept like kids unabruptedly. The refugees 
prayed to the God that their defenders must be paid back for taking risk to 
save the innocent lives . 33 Sometimes, the defenders had to risk their lives. 
Often, the plunderers would shout back: “Get off our way! Otherwise, you 
would also be gunned down ”. 34 Plunderers were pleaded to leave ladies and 
children apart for the sake of God. But none would listen. Such were the 

27. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas, pp. 227-28. 

28. Nanak Singh, Khoon De Sohale, pp. 230-3 1 . 

29. Ibid., pp. 233-35. 

30. Amrita Pritam, Pinjar (Skeleton), Arsi Publishers, Delhi, 2000, pp. 9 1 , 93-95. 

Amrita Pritam was one of the greatest figures in Punjabi literature. She was bom in 
Gujranwala in 1 919. Amrita Pritam was already a poet with a collection to her name in 
1936. When the partition came in 1 947, the number of her collections had risen to eight. 
The moralistic daughter had over come initial inhabitation and as a member of the 
progressive writers. She was now ready to make her most famous 'call to Waris Shah'. 
As she spoke, hers was hailed as one of the most potent voices to have expressed the 
pains, the rioters inflicted on the people of Punjab at the partition; 

Today I am asking Waris Shah 

She produced number of books. In 1 969, Govt, of India gave her "Padam Shri". Her 
most influential story at least in South Asian Literature circles in the U.S. is a Pinjar, a 
dark narrative of the cross religious abductions of women that took place in the partition. 

31. Nanak Singh, Khoon De Sohale,. p. 239. 

32. Nanak Singh, Agg Di Khed, p. 1 96. 

33. Nanak Singh, Khoon De Sohale, pp. 235-36. 

34. Nanak Singh, Agg Di Khed, p. 193. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

days. Perhaps, they had got hearts of hard metals. Some within the crowd 
would agree with Satnam to let off women and children yet others would 
yell, “No no, none would be spared. Children of Serpents ”. 35 

The injured were provided medical aid and shifted to the hospitals. 
“Satnam offered himself if the plunderers and rioters were willing to quench 
their thirst of blood”. The rioters had run amuck. They advanced and pounced 
upon the innocents leaving Satnam helpless . 36 Like the rioters and plunderers, 
the defenders were equally armed with latest weapons. Moreover, they were 
determined too . 37 Some remembered how the defenders defended the 
defenceless and innocent . 38 The people wished that the refugees may turn 
back to their homes . 39 

Some families had generations-old belongingness. They sacrificed their 
lives for the defence of their dear ones. Children of Muslim and Sikh notables 
used to play together. This belongingness haunted them at this juncture of 
history when violence and anarchy reined all-around . 40 At the hour of 
separation, “Alla Ditta exchanged turban with Sohne Shah again. Daughters 
of both put arms along their necks. All began weeping endlessly. All four were 
feeling alike . 41 Some old people were left behind with their known ones with 
the hope that they would be removed as the situation improved . 42 

The defenders could not realize their fate. “Chaudhary Fazal Din’s son 
Fatta and his four companions were murdered. They had gone out to get 
military help to move refugees out of their houses ”. 43 In Dhamyal, Chaudhary 
Alla Ditta’s name did enter into list of both Hindus and Sikhs, about his 
property. His house was to be burnt. His horses were to be carried away. 
Neither his daughter was to be spared. His body was to be cremated along 
with the Hindus and Sikhs amidst burning houses. The rioters also eyed on 
his property and house. After all, Alla Ditta had challenged the dictate of the 
Qazi. He had argued that in such a mad spree, “nail can not be separated from 
the flesh and killing neighbourers stands against the tenets of Islam ” 44 

35. Ibid., p. 25. 

36. Ibid., pp. 26, 194. 

37. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas, pp. 313-14. 

38. Amrita Pritam, Pinjar, pp. 120-21. 

39. Niranjan Singh Tasneem, Jadoti Saver Hoi, p. 153 . 

40. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas, p. 92. 

41. Ibid., pp. 86-87. 

42. Nanak Singh, Khoon De Sohale, pp. 183, 190, 228. 

43. Ibid, pp. 249, 258. 

44. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas, pp. 1 24, 264-65. 

Punjabis During Partition : Reflections In Punjabi Novels 


How to protect the property of the refugees was another consideration. 
There was a lingering hope in their minds that they (refugees) may turn back. 
Safety of the vacant houses had to be ensured as they had fears that hooligans 
may not plunder or put the houses on fire. Even someone may not occupy the 
vacant house. They had a hope in the minds of their minds that at the last 
instance, Mahatma Gandhi and M.A. Jinnah may chum out a solution and 
people may come back . 45 

For the refugees, the people had opened up their hearts. They were 
served and cared much. “In Amritsar, women had much consideration for 
the refugees. They cooked and served the food for the refugees. People took 
their meals only after they had served ”. 46 Even before the dawn, refugees 
would rush to bazars and streets to ask for bread and pickle. By now, people 
had the habit of cooking more . 47 Within no time, entire parkarma of Sri Darbar 
Sahib, Guru Ram Das Sarai and entire the Jallianwala Bagh used to be jammed 
by refugees. Large number of Relief Committees and Help Counters were 
opened. Sometimes, relief in food would extend the demand . 48 Similarly, in 
Lahore city, the food would come from different mohallas, such as Krishna 
Nagar, Ram Nagar and Shah Alami . 49 

For the refugees, the Relief Committees were working day in and day 
out. “The notables of Rawalpindi Cantt. would arrive with truckloads of loaves, 
cloths, blankets, shoes, milk, fruits and medicine. Volunteers from colleges 
and schools did the work of distribution. They were in large numbers and 
process would appear as if a new village had been established ”. 50 This process 
of relief continued for a few days. The relief camps had all the essential items 
of dress and domestics. It reflected the liberality of those who had sent these 
items duly packaged and carefully sorted out. There was another area which 
deserved care. That was serving the ill and providing milk to the children 
even upto the tents they were living . 51 Thus common kitchen used to operate 
for a few days. Then cooking items were supplied in the tents. Winter was 
approaching. Blankets, quilts and pullovers were supplied. Things were 
distributed according to needs. This supply was supervised by school masters . 52 

45. Niranjan Singh Tasneern, Jadon Saver Hoi, pp. 1 53, 1 56. 

46. Nanak Singh, Agg Di Khed, p. 1 5. 

47. Niranjan Singh Tasneem, Jadon Saver Hoi, p. 156. 

48. Nanak Singh, Agg Di Khed, p. 29. 

49. Niranjan Singh Tasneem, Jadon Saver Hoi, p. 120. 

50. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas, pp. 1 4 1 -42. 

51. Ibid., pp. 142, 182, 194-95. 

52. Niranjan Singh Tasneem, Jadon Saver Hoi , p. 157. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

The Relief Committees through pamphlets began advising the people not to 
waste their resources. They must approach the Relief Committees. Such 
appeals had no effect. 53 Along with food items, some people provided space 
to the refugees in their houses. Thus was the humanity in the form of divinity. 
Appeals were published that there was lack of space in the Relief Camps. So 
the refugees must be provided spare space in the houses. The people adjusted 
the refugees sympathetically. 54 

Despite these adversities, people continuously remembered their past. 
Jeeto remembered how maulvi used to perform mantra to get rid of certain 
skin diseases her children were suffering from. The maulvis could take care 
of fever. Both Hindus and Muslims used to visit a well, known for its cold 
water. Tts^water was considered pious for removing difficulties. Its water 
provided solace to faithfulls of all religions. 55 “The people discussed common 
customs, common religious places, common festivals, common songs, 
language and common dress and belongingness between Hindus and Muslims”. 
One woman confessed “how she had adopted a Muslim girl as her daughter. 
She would pay for her clothings and arranged her marriage with pomp and 
show." 56 

After the riots, near and dear ones and neighboured came to the camps 
to carry their villagers back to their homes. In the month of April 1947, level 
of persuasion was higher. The people brought with them new belongings 
which refugees had lost during the riots. 57 The Muslims confessed that they 
would construct new houses and return their properties and also share the 
crops with the refugees. The Muslims asked for loans, new seeds, schools, 
post-offices mostly managed by non-Muslims. Without the approval of the 
government, it was impossible for the refugees to go back to their houses. 58 

Despite bloodshed, peace prevailed in some of the cities. Within a city, 
plundering, looting and burning was going on while in some parts of a city 
people were busy buying things from shops without discrimination. This was 
the case of Lahore city. People argued that they would shift to the city where 
their identity would not be acknowledged.? 9 Some of the locked houses were 
opened up and schools for girls were started. Teachers were arranged from 

53 . Nanak Singh, Agg Di Khed, p. 29. 

54. Ibid., pp. 36, 45. 

55. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas , p. 197. 

56. Ibid., pp. 164-165, 167. 

57. Ibid., pp. 189-203, 204. 

58. Kartar Singh Duggal, Nau Te Maas, pp. 209-11. 

59. Ibid y . pp. 338-42. 

Punjabis During Partition : Reflections In Punjabi Novels 125 

adjoining streets. Now it was difficult to arrange a teacher in Urdu in a new 
milieu, people began forgetting the past and atrocities they passed through . 60 

After sometime, people began feeling urgency of meeting each other. 
They also started looking for their lost ones. They got support from others. 
Even postal communication got revived. People felt the desire to come closer 
and expected that whenever borders get opened they would exchange goods 
they had carefully kept in odd times . 61 The police searched out kidnapped girls 
and ladies in both the regions of the Punjab . 62 

Thus, in the Punjabi novels, the idea of brotherhood during and after 
the partition of the Punjab remained prevalent. The violence created a temporary 
rupture, which the people thought would be filled in no time. Yet much had 
changed. The partition turned the people nostalgic about their earlier homes, 
properties, cultural activities, habits and generation old belongingness, the 
people reflected back their longings in the relief camps. The locals and relatives 
provided needy balm and succour to the refugees and encouraged them to 
start a new beginning. 

60. Nanak Singh, Agg Di Khed, p. 69. 

61. Niranjan Singh Tasneem, Jadon Saver Hoi, pp. 162, 165. 

62. Amrita Pritam, Pinjar, pp. 123-24, 127. 


Aarti Suri* 

The movement for the Punjabi speaking state arose because of the 
policies of the national leadership. The Punjabi speaking movement was a 
movement for socio-cultural survival. 1 The Punjab had hardly recovered from 
the shock of partition and mass migration when the demand for a Sikh majority 
province began to be made. In February 1948, Master Tara Singh announced 
that “we want to have a province where we safeguard our culture and tradition. 
We have a culture different from the Hindus. Our culture is Gurmukhi culture 
and our literature is also in Gurmukhi script.” He made it clear that he was not 
asking for a sovereign Sikh state rather a province within Indian federation. 2 
Akali leadership began to chalk out alternative strategies for the protection of 
the rights of the Sikh community. The two issues which came handy to them 
for this purpose were those of language and reorganization of the state on 
linguistic basis. The Akalis demanded that there should be facility for the 
development of Punjabi language so that their cultural and religious identities 
were protected. 3 

After the partition, the Punjab was again in the grip of Language 
controversy. The controversy at that time assumed the shape of public 
demonstration which threatened public peace. At the back of the controversy 
was a demand for carving out a Punjabi speaking state. 4 

The constitution clearly emphasized the unity of the people as also their 
fundamental equality. The states were integral parts of a Union. Our 

* Research Scholar, Department of History, Guru Nanak Dev Uni versity, Amritsar, Punjab. 

1. Joyce J.M. Pettigrew, “The Influence of Urban Sikhs on the Development of the 
Movement for the Punjabi speaking state”. Journal of Sikh Studies, Vol. I, 197S, 
p. 153. 

2. Baldev Raj Nayyar, Minority Politics in the Punjab, Princeton University Press, 
Princeton, New Jersey, 1966, p. 98. 

3. S.S. Tiwana, “The Issue of Linguistic Reorganization in the Punjab (1947-66)”, The 
Panjab Past and Present, Vol. XXXI, Parti, 2000, p. 141. 

4. R.L. Anand, Census of India 1961, Punjab, Vol. XIII, Part-I-A (1), Government of 
India Press, Delhi, 1969, p. 399. 

The Sachar Formula And Struggle For Punjabi Suba 


constitution recognized only a common citizenship for the entire Indian people 
with equal rights and opportunities throughout the union. For national 
integration it was necessary to realize this unity and equality. To achieve it, 
the necessary safeguards relating to language, culture, freedom of speech, 
freedom of worship, equal opportunity in matters of recruitment to services 
and in trade and commerce etc. had been provided in the constitution . 5 The 
Congress president Pattabhi Sitaramayya held the conference on all India 
basis. In the public meeting, he promised to go into the question of linguistic 
minorities 6 in the province and give a solution to the problem of their treatment 
by the provincial governments concerned. Pattabhi said that linguistic 
minorities in the provinces were inevitable in the border provinces. The problem 
had now became very active and should be tackled for strengthening one 
nationality and one culture to make India a strong nation . 7 

Sardar Narotam Singh, minister for education, East Punjab visited the 
Social Education Centre Rohtak. He remarked that Hindi was national language 
of India. Everybody should learn Hindi whether he was a Hindu, a Muslim or 
a Sikh. Nobody should hate any other language. We should learn as many 
languages as possible which were in vogue in various provinces of the country. 
It would bring us nearer to one another and further strengthen our bonds of 
unity . 8 To protect the Hindi Language in the Punjab, All India Hindi Sahitya 
Sammelan was held in Abohar. There were many resolutions passed to protect 
the Hindi. In this conference the surprising thing revealed was that there was 
no acceptance of money-order in Hindi in the Punjab post offices . 9 Some of 
the communal elements in the Punjab also encouraged the communal 
differences and created tension. The political leaders seeing their political 
leadership in danger went to the extent of recording Hindi as their mother 
tongue . 10 

5. S.B. Malik, Fourth Report of the Commission for Linguistic Minorities, Government 
of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Allahabad, 28 April, 1962, p. 1. 

6. The term minority as applied in Modem Political Terminology is restricted to distinct 
“racial” or “national” groups in minority of numerical strength within a sovereign 

7. The Tribune, January 1, 1950, Vol. LXX, No. 1, p. 97. 

8. The Tribune, January 3, 1950, Vol. LXX, No. 1, p. 3. 

9. The Tribune, January 9, 1950, Vol. LXII, No. 9, p. 5. 

10. The Spokesman Weekly, 1953, p. 48. 


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April 2007 

The Sikhs claimed that their language was Punjabi. The Punjabi was 
the language of all the Punjabis whether the Hindus or the Sikhs. The Punjab 
was the only bilingual province of India." Pandit Jawahar Lai Nehru had 
admitted that a nation could develop its culture and education through its 
language only. In the words of Congress leader Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla, 
“there can be no Punjab without Punjabi.” The Punjabi was one of the 14 
languages recognized as regional languages in the Indian Constitution. It also 
directed that every state government should develop its regional language, yet 
the difference was being shown in the Punjab in this direction. Punjabi was 
not being given the status and encouragement it deserved. 12 

Master Tara Singh while addressing a gathering at Lucknow on October 
18, 1948 pleaded for redemarcation of the Punjabi speaking areas. He further 
declared that the demand for a Punjabi speaking province was in accordance 
with the Congress decision. 13 In another meeting he said, “I do not want a 
Sikh state, what I demand is equality.” 14 

Referring to the Congress leader’s attitude. Master Tara Singh said that 
they accepted the Muslim demand for Pakistan but the demand of the Sikhs, 
unlike that of the Muslims was a simple one. 

The Sikhs did not want a separate country. He said that the Sikhs were 
prepared to get aside for communalism in case they were given a place as 
their home province. Resolutions were passed in the meeting demanding that 
the Punjabi should be the court language. 15 

Master Tara Singh in an interview in Delhi said that a section of the 
press in East Punjab had deliberately twisted his demand for a Sikh province 
in the Indian Union to mean that he wanted a separate Sikh state outside the 
union. He declined to define the boundaries of his proposed Sikh province 
stating that it was a matter of detail which could be discussed later. Acceptance 
of the idea was of fundamental importance. The creation of a Sikh province 
would have removed grievances of the Sikhs. Master Tara Singh said that it 
would be a domestic problem to be decided by the Sikhs themselves. The 
Sikhs in their own province would be free from “Hindu domination.” The 
grievances of the Sikhs in East Punjab mainly related to “discrimination against 
the Sikhs” in the matter of appointment to the services and in the administration. 

11. The Spokesman Weekly, 1955, Baisakhi Number, p. 48. 

12. The Spokesman Weekly, 1953, p. 48. 

13. The Khalsa, October 24, 1948. 

14. The Khalsa, December 24, 1948. 

15 The Tribune, March 18, 1949, Vol. LXVIII, No. 84, p. 1. 

The Sachar Formula And Struggle For Punjabi Suba 1 29 

The Congress leaders had not kept their promises of giving equal opportunity 
to the Sikhs in the services and the administration of the province. Such a 
province, he added, should be given the same autonomy as had been given to 
the state of Kashmir. This was the only suggestion. 16 

The demand for a Punjabi speaking province by Master Tara Singh was 
confused with the demand for a Sikh homeland or Khalistan. To solve this 
problem the Ministry of Education, New Delhi, passed a resolution in 1948, 
on the subject of the medium of instruction in educational institutions. The 
resolution had been published in the Gazette of India 1948, at page 1000, 
Part- 1, Section - 1, No. D 3791 /48 d.i. The principle that a child should be 
instructed in the early stage of his education through the medium of his mother 
tongue had been accepted by the government. All educationists agreed that 
any departure from this principle was bound to be harmful to the child and 
therefore, to the interest of society. 17 

The Congress Working Committee resolution and the decisions of the 
Provincial Education Ministers' conference, guided the language policy of 
East Punjab. This was revealed by the East Punjab Premier, Bhimsen Sachar, 
who said “during the last several months a controversy about the language of 
the East Punjab has been going on in the press. It will be appreciated by all, 
the question is not so simple as some people think it, because many 
considerations have to be borne in mind while arriving at a decision so that as 
far as possible, it may be acceptable to all.” He added that East Punjab cabinet 
after careful consideration had unanimously decided to act in the light of the 
principles laid down in the resolution of the working committee of the Indian 
National Congress and the decision of the Provincial Education Ministers’ 
Conference. 18 

The implications of this resolution raised some difficulties. The question 
was which language should be considered as the mother tongue. Many 
languages were known in every region, provinces and states in India. This 
created a difficulty to impose this resolution. The second difficulty was that 
in some provinces one of these languages was predominant. There was hardly 
a province in which besides a principal language there were not considerable 
number of inhabitants speaking other languages. There were the areas in 
Madras, Bombay, Calcutta, Orissa and East Punjab where the mixture of the 
languages were spoken. It was impossible for any state or province to adopt 


16. The Khalsa, November 6, 1949, Vol. 21, No. 40, p. 18. 

1 7. Harkrishan Singh Bawa, A Plea for Punjabi Speaking Province, n.p., 1 948, p. 4. 

18. Civil and Military Gazette, September 1, 1949, Vol. LXX, No. 129, p. 7. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

any single language as the medium of instruction. These provinces were 
called the bilingual provinces. 19 

In April 1 948, Punjab was declared a bilingual province. Both the Punjabi 
in Gurmukhi script and the Hindi in Devnagri script were its languages. It 
gave equal status to the Hindi and the Punjabi in government primary schools. 
The Sikhs resented the parity between the two languages because the spoken 
language of the Punjab was Punjabi and most of the literature of the Punjab 
was in Gurmukhi script. They argued that Punjabi in Gurmukhi script should 
be declared as the sole language of the Punjab. The Hindus opposed this 
demand. 20 The Sikhs also wanted a separate department for the popularization 
of Punjabi in Gurmukhi script as there was for Hindi. The Sikhs said that in 
the present set up their cultural advancement was hindered. The Punjabi was 
not recognized as a regional language. This was the main reason for their 
demand of a Punjabi speaking province. 21 

During the first decade of independence, Gopi Chand Bhargava became 
the first Chief Minister of the Punjab with Akali support. His ministry followed 
a favourable language policy, increased Sikh representation in services and 
large share in the ministry. The Akalis also demanded that Giani Kartar Singh 
be included in Bhargava ministry as a particular price for their support. He 
promised the Akalis that considerable efforts would be made to meet other 
demands. 22 Gopi Chand Bhargava, wanted to decide the medium of instruction. 
He decided that the Punjabi or Hindi medium of instruction would be introduced 
from the year 1948-49. 23 

The conflict between the Hindus and the Sikhs on the language issue 
took the serious turn. The Sikhs felt that the Hindus by denying the right of 
the Punjabi as their mother tongue, wanted to gain a position of superiority 
over them. Language joins as well as separates. The vernacular press was 
essentially responsible for converting language frontiers into communal 
barriers. 24 Gopi Chand Bhargava, made an appeal to the Punjabis from Jalandhar 
Radio Station to take the pledge to uproot communalism from the province. 
Mr. Bhargava said that no body could deny the fact that communalism had 

19. Harkrishan Singh Bawa, A Plea for Punjabi Speaking Province, p. 5. 

20. Anup Chand Kapur, The Punjab Crisis: An Analytical Study, S. Chand and Company, 
New Delhi, 1985, p. 153. 

21. The Spokesman Weekly, 1953, p. 48. 

22. A.S. Narang, Storm Over the Sutlej: The Akali Politics, Gitanjali Publishing House, 
New Delhi, 1983, p. 87. 

23. The Tribune, March 9, 1948, p. 7. 

24. Anup Chand Kapur, The Punjab Crisis : An Analytical Study, p. 155. 

The Sachar Formula And Struggle For Punjabi Suba 


ruined us. He said that some people were still trying to create Hindu-Sikh 
question in the province. Anybody who preached communalism was the 
greatest enemy of the country. We had to put East Punjab bn its own legs and 
to make it a stable and strong province. For this, we would have to eradicate 
the evil of communalism. 25 

: The possibilities of clash between these two communities were bound 
to affect the peace and solidarity of the whole nation which could not afford 
any weakening of its frontiers. The dictates of wisdom required that the 
government should set its face against all suggestions of communalism in its 
educational policy and lay down and support those roots of culture which 
might evolve an organic growth of our people as one entity owing to one 
language as its mother tongue and one language as its national lingua- franca. 26 

The prominent Sikh leaders of Delhi — Giani Gurmukh Singh, Sardar 
Ujjal Singh, Sardar Khem Singh had issued a press statement that the grievances 
of the Sikhs, which the Akali Dal had in view related to services and the 
Punjabi language, could be solved by provincial or central governments. The 
question of services could likewise be solved in a spirit of accommodation 
and good will. The demand of a linguistic province in the Punjab, if it was a 
secular demand, should have the support of a substantial majority of the 
population. The impelling need of hour was that the Punjabis should work for 
the unity and good will amongst all sections of the populatibn. 27 Any support 
given to the Punjabi language must serve as a bridge between different sections 
of the people. The progress of the Punjabi would be the cornier stone for the 
edifice of the Punjab state as an integral part of the larger state of India. 28 

Bhim Sen Sachar and Giani Kartar Singh propounded a formula known 
as the “Sachar formula” in order to solve the language problem. 29 In October 
1949, the Punjab Government submitted its proposals oh the language issue 
which were signed by Bhim Sen Sachar, Gopi Chand Bhargava, Ujjal Singh 
and Kartar Singh. According to this formula the state was divided into two 
linguistic regions : Punj abi speaking and Hindi speaking region. 30 In accordance 
with, and in furtherance of its policy to promote the growth of all regional 

25. The Tribune, February 18, 1948, p. 2. 

26. The Khalsa, October 16, 1949. 

27. The Tribune, January 14, 1950. 

28. The Spokesman Weekly, 1 955, p. 47. 

29. Anup Chand Kapur, The Punjab Crisis: An Analytical Study, p. 1 53. 

30. S.S. Tiwana, “The Issue ofLinguistic Reorganization in the Punjab (1947-66)”, p. 142; 
and SatyaM. Rai, Partition of the Punjab, Asia Publishing House, New Delhi, 1965, 

p. 221. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

languages, the central government should encourage the development of the 
Punjabi language. The general safeguards proposed for linguistic minority 
would be applicable to the Punjab like other states. The Punjabi should be the 
regional language in the Punjabi speaking area and the Hindi should be the 
regional language in the Hindi speaking area. The Punjabi should mean the 
Punjabi in Gurmukhi script and the Hindi in Devnagri script. 31 In order to 
retain the bilingual character of the province it provided for a compulsory 
learning of both languages in each zone. 32 The six districts of Amritsar, 
Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur and Ropar and Kharar 
tehsil of Ambala district, excluding Chandigarh, was the Punjabi speaking 
area. The Hindi speaking area consisted of five districts of Rohtak, Gurgaon, 
Kamal, Kangra and Hissar except Sirsa tehsil and two tehsils of Jagadhari and 
Naraingarh in the Ambala district. Shimla, Ambala, Chandigarh and Sirsa 
were declared bilingual. 33 

The formula also demarcated Punjab into two distinct zones: Punjabi 
speaking zone and Hindi speaking zone. 34 Punjabi should be the medium of 
instruction in Punjabi zone in all schools upto the matriculation stage and 
Hindi should be taught as a compulsory language from the last class of the 
primary department and upto the matriculation. Hindi should be the medium 
of instruction in Hindi speaking area in all schools upto the matriculation and 
Punjabi should be taught as compulsory language from the last class of the 
primary department and upto the matriculation. 35 

In the matter of script the question was settled once for all that in the 
Jalandhar division the Punjabi in Gurmukhi script was to be taught first upto 
third class in the schools and then Hindi along with Punjabi, and in Ambala 
division the Hindi to be taught first in the first three classes and then the 
Punjabi. 36 In this way the children were required to learn the language of the 
region in all the schools upto the matriculation stage and the other language at 
the secondary stage. The choice of the medium of instruction was left entirely 
to the parents. It might be the Hindi or the Punjabi but then the children must 
learn the second language from 4 th to 10 th class. It was decided that the 
English and the Urdu would remain the official and court languages and were 

31. S.B. Malik, Fourth Report of the Commission for Linguistic Minorities, Government of 
India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Allahabad, 1962, pp. 185-86. 

32. A.S. Narang, Storm Over the Sutlej : Akali Politics, p. 88 . 

33 Anup Chand Kapur, The Punjab Crisis: An Analytical Study, p. 153. 

34. A.S. Narang, Storm Over the Sutlej: Akali Politics, p. 88. 

35. Fourth Report of the Commission for Linguistic Minorities, pp. 185-86. 

36. The Spokesman Weekly, 1955, p. 4. 

The SachaR' Formula And Struggle For Punjabi Suba 


to be progressively replaced by the Hindi and the Punjabi. The English was 
the medium of instruction in the medical, technical and engineering 
institutions . 37 

The Sachar formula was hailed by the Sikhs as a welcome step though 
they criticized the right of the parents to choose and determine the medium of 
instructions for the education of their children . 38 Sachar formula met with 
criticism from the Hindus in general and their organizations in particular. The 
Arya Samaj, the Jan Sangh the Hindu Mahasabha and Hindu vernacular press, 
started a continuous and an offensive campaign against the claim of the Punjabi 
as to be a regional language of the Punjabi speaking area . 39 The Hindu press 
advised and propagated that the Hindus of this area should declare the Hindi 
as their mother tongue and get it recorded as such in the forth coming census. 
A meeting of the principals and headmasters of Hindu denominational schools 
was convened to vehemently express their opposition against the introduction 
of the Punjabi as a medium of instruction . 40 The head masters and principals 
of the Khalsa Schools resolved that the rights of the Punjabi should be 
safeguarded and the “Sachar formula” should be implemented . 41 The campaign 
was started by the Hindu organizations and the Hindu press that the Hindus of 
this area should declare Hindi as their mother tongue. It gave rise to the new 
fears and possibilities which began to agitate the minds of the people of the 
Punjab. The Akali leadership soon realized that it could pave the way for the 
establishment of a Sikh dominated state within India under the cover of 
language . 42 In the heated communal atmosphere, the press carried on the 
campaign in the bitterest language and these facts got intermixed up with the 
question of the reorganization of the state . 43 The Sachar formula had many 
faults, so it was not successful. 

The Sachar formula could not solve the linguistic problem. A Linguistic 
Commission was set up by the Congress under the chairmanship of S.K. Dar. 
The Dar Commission recommended that no new provinces should be formed 
for the time being. The question could be taken up when India would be 

37. The Khalsa, September 25, 1949, Vol. 21, No. 35, p. 1. 

38. S.S. Tiwana, “TheTssue of Linguistic Reorganization in the Punjab (1947-66)”, p. 142. 

39. Satya M. Rai, Partition of the Punjab, p. 22 1 . 

40. Anup Chand Kapur, The Punjab Crisis: An Analytical Study, p. 154. 

4 1 . Satya M. Rai, Partition of the Punjab, p. 22 1 . 

42. Balraj Mandhok, Punjab Problem : The Muslim Connection, Vision Books, New Delhi, 
1985, p. 79. 

43. Satya M. Rai, Partition of the Punjab, p. 223. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

physically and emotionally integrated, the Indian states’ problems solved, the 
national sentiment strengthened and other conditions were favourable. So 
this argument preferred the postponement of the linguistic consideration. 44 

The Congress also appointed J.V.P. Committee to have another look 
into the matter of linguistic problem. 45 This committee also suggested the 
postponement of the redistribution of the provinces on linguistic basis that 
this step would cause serious administrative dislocation, political and economic 
instability. 46 After the report, on October 1, 1953, the first linguistic state 
Andhra was created because it was the native place of Pattabhi Sitaramayya’ 47 . 
So this increased the demand of Punjabi speaking province. 

The Champions of linguistic states, Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru 
were prepared to discuss the question with Master Tara Singh. The Sikhs 
were dissatisfied with the present state of affairs. They said, if the state did 
not solve this problem, they would use the other methods to end the existing 
discrimination. They wanted to cany the country to its logical conclusion of 
establishing a free and prosperous country where unjust, improper boundaries 
no longer exist and each unit develop its language, culture and tradition. 48 
With the formation of a Punjabi speaking state all those who speak one language 
were to be united. The formation of Punjabi Suba would strengthen the toiling 
masses, and the exploiters who thrive on communalism would be thrown 
back. The government must act in a non-partisan way and show broad 
mindedness and should form a Punjabi speaking state. Rest assured any Punjabi 
speaking state on principles of equality and one language and one culture 
would surely improve the Hindu-Sikh relations. 49 

In this way the Punjab, which had from the very beginning acted as 
sentinel of India and would feed the deficit areas of the country and thereby 
help in reducing dependency from foreign bread, the new Punjab with unity 
of language, culture and tradition would be a source of inspiration, strength 
and prosperity for the country. 50 

44. Indian States ' Reorganization Commission Report, 1 955, p. 2 1 . 

45. J.V.P. was known because of the initials of the first names of its members : Jawaharlal 
Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramayya. Anup Chand Kapur, The Punjab 
Crisis : An Analytical Study, p. 156. 

46. Satya M.Rai, Partition of the Punjab, p. 223. 

47. Anup Chand Kapur, The Punjab Crisis : An Analytical Study, pp. 156-57. 

48. The Spokesman Weekly, 1953, p. 49. 

49. Jagjit Singh Anand, Sant Baba Fateh Singh On Punjabi Suba, National Book Club, New 
Delhi, p. 12. 

50. The Spokesman Weekly, 1953, pp. 49-50. 

The Sachar Formula And Struggle For Punjabi Suba 


All these steps of the Government to solve the problem of Punjab created 
confusion about the nature of government that it would solve the problem. 
Government thought that the creation of mere linguistic provinces like Andhra 
gave rise to the demand for the separation of other linguistic groups. The 
Government appointed another commission to solve this problem and further 
prolonged the creation of Punjabi speaking province. 



Ahmad Salim* 

Right from the realization of independence of Pakistan in August 1947, 
the state has failed to support the cause of a scientific and secular approach 
to history and the vision of a comprehensive people’s past. The educational 
system could not hold a firm position on free enquiry, and suffered suppression. 
Consequently, the tendency towards introduction of unscientific and parochial 
concepts, along with the provision of inaccurate information and concealment 
of facts from people in text books and syllabi started taking root. During the 
martial law of 1958, the government adopted controversial measures in an 
attempt to impose a disturbingly one-sided view of history about Pakistan’s 
making. Other state governments have introduced similar changes in text 
books and syllabi, imposing their own versions of social cults and concepts, 
false ideas and historical inaccuracies through official fiats. In fact, numerous 
states benefit from the fact that education is a value-laden, moral activity 
because it provides a design for living. 

Formal education exists in both a process and a product. An important 
dimension of education includes an analysis of the way in which the educational 
process is influenced by the various social forces operating in civil society 
and its translation into policies, curricula, textbooks, school organization and 
school ideology. Educational aims do not exist in isolation, insulated from the 
domain of values and ideologies. Rather, certain values and ideologies 
historically become dominant, mature and develop as a current discourse 
wherein education becomes an ideological apparatus for its dissemination. 

In the context of the capitalist state, the various naturalizing mechanisms 
resorted to in order to establish the legitimacy of the capitalist logic are not 
unknown. Bowles and Gintis, Michael Apple, Bourdieu have discussed the 
manner in which the educational system provides an ideological basis for the 
sustenance of the political economy of capitalism. In ‘Education and Power’, 
Michael Apple argues that the way in which the form and content of education 

Lahore (Pakistan) 

Historical Falsehoods In The Text-Books : A Study Of 1971 War 137 

are instrumental in the continuous generation of the hegemonic ideology and 
creation of an active consensus constitutes an aspect of the state. “Schools 
help maintain privilege in cultural ways by taking the form and content of 
the culture and knowledge of the powerful groups and defining it as legitimate 
knowledge to be preserved and passed on. Apple refers to three aspects of 
school as being instrumental in this process. Firstly, the day-to-day interactions 
and regularities of the hidden curriculum that tacitly teaches important norms 
and values; secondly, the overt curriculum itself; and thirdly, the mediating 
role of teachers in its transmission and their perspectives. 

The cultural mechanism of transmission of ruling class interest through 
education serves as a hegemonic device. Under the concept of ‘culture capital’, 
the worldview, language, values, attitudes, socialisation patterns, behaviour 
patterns and the entire way of life of the middle class coincides with that of 
the school. Hence, the school reproduces the middle class culture and values 
and thus reinforces the habitues learnt at home. This further gets extended 
into the political and social life and a similar successful career follows . 1 2 The 
school system, thus, confirms and upholds one kind of knowledge and culture 
(of the dominant classes) as against the other (of the manual workers and 
lower classes) which subsequently is assigned an inferior status. Knowledge 
and culture are thereby rendered as tools for the exercise of power. A number 
of dimensions of the educational process derive from the framework of social 
relations. “The pupils are collected in classroom group so that they may be 
taught certain data. They are checked and corrected in ways to see that they 
have done the work and this is the manifest content of the classroom. Behind 
this obvious appearance, there is the routine of attendance, punctuality, self- 
submergence to authority, the silence of the class, the recognition of hierarchy, 
prefects, teachers and head teachers. These factors represent the latent content, 
the underlying effect of the organization of the school. Active learning represents 
the manifest content of schoolwork. The latent content is represented by passive 
learning, the habits, the data, attitudes picked up through constant, familiar 
steady contact with a state of affairs we do not have to think about. ” 3 

Thus, the political role of education that seeks to serve the interest of a 
particular section in society has been theoretically well established. The 

1 . Apple, Michael, Education and Power, p. 4 1 . 

2. Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J.C., Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture,- Sage 

Publications, 1977. t 

3. Mannheim, Karl, An Introduction to the Sociology of Education, Routledge arid Kegan 
Paul, p. 138. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

ideological function of education in the creation and establishment of a certain 
worldview that orients an individual towards a pre-planned rationality becomes 
evident. Both the formal and informal mechanisms at the disposal of the 
school achieve this. However, there also exists a theoretical strand in parallel, 
which recognizes the autonomous individual space which could resist the 
imposition of a worldview, not coinciding with the habitues. “ Culture is, 
however, both subject and object of resistance; the driving force of culture is 
contained not only in how it functions to dominate subordinate groups, but 
also in the way in which oppressed groups draw from their own cultural capital 
and set of experiences to develop an oppositional logic. ” 4 The resistance 
school of thought focuses on the role of the human agency as an active 
participant, in the process of acceptance or non-acceptance of all symbolic 

Evidently, the educational process, is created by both the exercised and 
the exercisers of power, and exists due to human effort at its social creation. 
State dominant ideologies are transmitted within educational process and they 
influence their subjects to a great extent. Hence, the process creates and 
recreates a particular form of social and cultural dynamics. Pakistan, being a 
post-colonial state, presents an example of intensified dissemination of state 
dominant ideologies. The concept of irreligious, amoral, secular education 
was an artificial creation of the British colonialism for experimentation on the 
soil of the colonized, when their education had strong moral and religious 
undertones. In fact, an important fear was cultural hostility and reaction of 
the natives. Therefore, classical humanistic education was encouraged that 
required a strictly disciplinary approach to fields of knowledge. The method 
of education emphasized upon was based more on memorization, rote learning 
i.e.. sounds rather than meaning. The missionaries were critical of such 
pedagogical methods and curriculum content. They believed that education, 
without its moral content would be misleading. “According to the missionary 
argument, to a man in a state of ignorance of moral law, literature was 
patently indifferent to virtue. Far from cultivating moral feelings, a wide 
reading was more likely to cause him to question moral law more closely and 
perhaps even encourage him to deviate from its dictates. ” 5 

There was an implicit nexus between the Christian missionaries and the 
colonial state. Both had an agenda which consisted of evangelistic ambitions, 

4. Aronwitz, S and GIROUX, A., Education Under Siege, Bergin and Garvey Pub., 1985, 

p. 95. ‘ 

5. Vishwanathan, Gauri, Masks of Conquest, p. 47. 

Historical Falsehoods In The Text-Books : A Study Of 1971 War 139 

mutually harboured, though for different reasons. While the missionaries 
aspired for preaching and expanding the influence of the Gospel, the colonial 
state saw it as a hegemonizing mechanism that would secure English 
domination. In fact, Pakistan could not be completely treated as a post-colonial 
state as the British colonialism translated into West Pakistan’s colonialism 
over East Pakistan. 

The Pakistani leaders failed to frame a constitution and it was not before 
1956 that a constitution was eventually framed only to be scrapped by the 
army which came to power in 1958. Interestingly, the politics centred around 
personalities in Pakistan and the importance of an office increased or decreased 
with the importance of the person who held it. Thus, after Jinnah’s death the 
office of Prime Minister became more important than that of the Governor- 
General. After the assassination of Prime Minister Liaqat All Khan, Khawaja 
Nazimuddin became Prime Minister of Pakistan and Ghulam Mohammad 
became the Governor-General. A man of boundless ambition, he began to 
work on Jinnah’s precedent and taking advantage of Nazimuddin’s weak 
personality he cleverly tried to build up his power. Since he did not have any 
political background, he leaned heavily on the civil services and the army 
dominated by the Punjabis. Politics in Pakistan had degenerated into intrigue. 
The ruling clique which was predominantly West Pakistani in composition, . 
maintained itself in power by playing one group against the other, (‘divide and 
rule’) using the name of Islam for political purposes. Throughout this period 
East Pakistan was being exploited for the benefit of West Pakistan. A sense of 
deprivation and frustration began to develop among the Bengalis. It was out 
of this feeling that Bangladesh nationalism was bom. But there was a long 
period of groping before that phenomenon had taken shape. A new sense of 
awareness regarding East Bengal’s separate political, economic, and cultural 
identity had begun to manifest itself at the time of the language controversy 
between 1948 to 1952. The break-up of the old Muslim league and the 
emergence of the Awami League signified a new development in the political 
life of Pakistan. The hold of religion on politics was weakening and politics 
leaned towards the secular. In 1949, the Awami Muslim League was founded 
and soon afterwards secular organizations, such as Youth League and 
Ganatantri Dal were established. In 1955, the Awami Muslim League dropped 
the denomination ‘Muslim’ from its name. In the provincial elections of 1954 
the Muslim League party suffered a humiliating defeat in East Pakistan. Besides 
the Awami League, two other secular political parties, viz., the Krishak Sramik 
Party and the National Awami Party made their appearance. The Communist 
Party though banned in Pakistan also increased its underground activities. 
The Pakistani ruling circles dominated by the army, the bureaucracy and the 
big business were alarmed at these new developments. The dismissal of Fazlul 


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April 2007 

Huq ministry in 1954, the establishment of One Unit in West Pakistan in 1956 
and the imposition of martial law in 1958 were all parts of the same process 
to curb democratic and progressive forces in the country. In 1962, President 
Ayub Khan imposed an authoritarian constitution and instituted a system of 
the so-called ‘Basic Democracy’. Pakistan was virtually a dictatorship under 
a democratic garb. The National Assembly had little power, the independence 
of the judiciary was severely curtailed and the executive was made all-powerful. 
The Bengalis began to feel that only through a system of parliamentary 
democracy based on adult franchise and direct elections could they expect to 
get their due share in the administration of the country. 6 

By 1966, under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the Awami 
League had emerged as the national platform of the people of East Pakistan. 
The Six Points formulated by the Awami League represented a programme 
for political and economic development within a broad democratic framework. 
The elections held in December 1970 demonstrated clearly that the people 
were overwhelmingly behind the secular political programme of the Awami 
League. The Muslim League and the religious parties like the Jamaat-i-Islami 
were totally rejected by the electorate. The ruling military circles of Pakistan 
which had so long been exploiting the people by appealing to their religious 
sentiments got unnerved. They were unwilling to accept the reality of the 
situation. On March 25, 1 97 1 the Pakistan army attacked the Bengali population. 
Gruesome genocide occurred, and it shocked the conscience of the world. 
Bengalis resisted the armed invasion. The war of national liberation had started 
which culminated in the creation of independent Bangladesh. 7 

All these socio-political developments in the region continued to be 
projected in the educational process. However, the situation intensified shortly 
after the tragedy of 1971, which was maliciously projected and propagated 
through the Pakistani educational system. The official textbooks of Pakistan 
present state-dominant ideologies and hegemonic views, with history rewritten 
to the point of complete distortion. The material in school textbooks is directly 
opposed to the goals and values of a “progressive, moderate and democratic” 
Pakistan. The most significant problems in the current curriculum and 

6. Akanda, Safar A., "East Pakistan and the Politics of Regionalism ", (unpublished Ph. D. 
thesis, University of Denver, 1970), p. 265 (Quoted by Ahmad, A.F. Salahuddin, "The 
Emergence of Bangladesh: Historical Background", Vol, I, New Delhi : South Asian 
Publishers, 1986. 

7. Ahmad, A.F. Salahuddin, "The Emergence of Bangladesh: Historical Background", 
Vol. I, New Delhi : South Asian Publishers, 1986, p. 144. 

Historical Falsehoods In The Text-Books : A Study Of 1971 War 141 

textbooks include inaccuracies of facts and omissions that serve to substantially 
distort the nature and significance of actual events in the history of Pakistan. 
The curriculum could lead to incitement of militancy and violence, including 
encouragement of jehadi elements and perspectives that encourage prejudice, 
bigotry and discrimination towards fellow citizens, especially women, religious 
minorities and other nations. 

In the textbooks of History, Social Studies and Pakistan Studies, students 
up to the matric level are not only fed on distorted versions of history, but 
also failed if they deviate from the textbooks. There is no attempt at self- 
criticism and no reference to the havoc brought by the military dictatorship. 
In the textbooks about the history of Pakistan, there is not a single paragraph 
that mentions the political developments in and around 1971 in a serious way. 
The Pakistan Studies for class IX-X states in this regard: “ After the elections 
the country faced a political crises which resulted in the separation of East 
Pakistan from the rest of the country. ” 8 No wonder even educated adults do 
not know the truth behind the countiy’s dismemberment in 1971 and are 
unable to diagnose correctly the sickness that has overtaken today’s Pakistan. 
The same book on page 24 1 defines the relations of Pakistan with Bangladesh: 
“ Before December, 1971 Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan and was called 
East Pakistan. Pakistan recognised Bangladesh as an independent country in 
February, 1974 on the occasion of second Islamic Summit Conference. ” 

The emergence of Bangladesh as sovereign, independent state represented 
the greatest tragedy that can befall any state. In our case the disaster of 1971 
has persuaded us neither to examine our political ideals and practices nor to 
learn the obvious lessons. This is amply proved, among other things by what 
Pakistani school children are told about the dismemberment of Pakistan. “After 
the 1965 war, India, with the help of Hindus living in East Pakistan instigated 
the people living there against the people of West Pakistan and at last, in 
December 1971, herself invaded East Pakistan. The conspiracy resulted in 
the separation of East Pakistan from us. All of us should receive military 
training and be prepared to fight the enemy, ” says one of the textbooks in 
Punjab province. 

Pakistan Studies or civics is a subject our children study from class I to 
the highest course. In most institutions children in classes I to IV are not told 
about the Pakistan that existed before December 1971. The books on Pakistan 
Studies prescribed by our textbook board for these classes contain no reference 

8. Pakistan Studies for class IX-X, Lahore: Punjab Textbook Board, 2002, pp. 66-67. 


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April 2007 

to East Bengal’s separation. It is in the book for class five that we find a 
reference to the event in the following words: “The war of 1971: After the 
1965 war, Bharat, with the help of Hindus living in East Pakistan, invited 
the people of that province against the people of West Pakistan. Finally it 
(India) invaded East Pakistan in December 1971. The result of this conspiracy 
was that in December 1971 East Pakistan separated from us. All of us should 
be ready to face the enemy after receiving military training. ” 9 

This is how children are initiated into the conspiracy theory by an external 
enemy and subversion by Hindu citizens. And the remedy against political 
failure is to get military training. The impression created by the few half- 
truths reproduced above put a child on a path that leads him further and 
further away from a rational understanding of history and politics. The civics 
books for classes six and seven again ignore the separation of East Bengal. In 
the textbook for class eight we notice a passing reference to the event in the 
discussion on constitutional developments. This is what we find: 

“After Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan assumed power. During his tenure the 
country had a general election. In East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Awami 
League and in West Pakistan, Pakistan People 's Party scored notable success. 
But before power could be transferred, East Pakistan fell a victim to Bharat ’s 
conspiracy and was separated from Pakistan .” 10 The matric textbook, which 
contains no index, makes no mention at all of Bangladesh. The events of 1971 
are referred to in two sentences on pages 66 and 67 and the matter is referred 
to as a ‘political crises’ and a ‘national catastrophe’ which “resulted in the 
separation of East Pakistan from the rest of the country. Evidently, these 
books contain omissions related to events leading to the 1971 war and the 
systematic policy of keeping Bengalis out of power, which played a key role 
in the respective crises. 12 

The Pakistan Studies textbook for classes 9 and 10 states in the context 
of the separation of East Pakistan: “In 1971 while Pakistan was facing political 
difficulties in East Pakistan, India helped anti-Pakistan elements and later 
on attacked Pakistan... As a result of this war in December 1971, the eastern 
wing of Pakistan separated and appeared as Bangladesh on the world map. ” 13 

9. Civics for class V, Punjab Textbook Board. 

10. Civics for class VIII. 

1 1 . Khan, Farah, "Different Books, Different Education, "Dawn, September 1 5, 2003. 

1 2. Hasnain, Khurshid and Nayyer, A.H., Conflict and Violence in the Educational Process, 
p. 4. 

13. The Pakistan Studies textbook for classes 9 and 10, Punjab Textbook Board. 

Historical Falsehoods In The Text-Books : A Study Of 1971 War 143 

Similarly in the Social Studies for class six (page 40), the creation of 
East Pakistan is described in one paragraph and the causes are attributed to 
internal and external factors. The entire history of the treatment of East Pakistan 
as a colony, the state repression, the role of the army and exploitation is omitted. 14 

The textbook for Pakistan Studies for secondary classes while 
emphasizing the importance of ‘national unity and integration’, states: 
“ Pakistanis are fully conscious of the importance of national unity and 
solidarity. The East Pakistan tragedy in 1970 only deepened these feelings. ” 15 
The book proceeds to describe the essential elements of national unity in 
Pakistan as a separate national identity for Muslims, experiences of foreign 
rule and the desire to achieve a common goal. The separation of East Pakistan 
is regarded as a great setback for Pakistan. However, it is mentioned that: 
“By 1970, only a few years after the birth of Pakistan, the sentiments for 
national unity had weakened so much in East Pakistan that it broke away 
from the mother country. Among the important causes for this tragedy the role 
of the hostile element in East Pakistan and role of some foreign powers is 
mentioned." The blame is then shifted to the Hindus living in East Pakistan, 
“they had never really accepted Pakistan. ” The section is full of similar 
statements, few are as under: 

• “Some political leaders had deliberately encouraged provincialism 
for the selfish purpose of gaining power. ” 

• " East Pakistan also had proportionately less representation in the 
civil and military services of Pakistan. ” 

• “In the 1970 elections the Awami League fully exploited provincialism. 
It created hatred towards West Pakistan maintaining that all problems of East 
Pakistan will disappear once it broke away from Pakistan... These leaders 
had all the blessings of Bharat which hoped to either annex East Pakistan or 
make it a protege of its own... Bharat actively supported the Awami League 
and the anti-Pakistan element. It not only launched an offensive through its 
press, radio and embassies, but also gave weapons to the anti-Pakistan 
elements, and later on its regular army attacked East Pakistan. ” 

• “Separation of East Pakistan has been a great blow to the people of 
Pakistan yet it has shown them their weakness and made them conscious of 
the importance of national solidarity , 16 

14. Social Studies for class 6, Punjab Textbook Board. 

1 5. Pakistan Studies for Secondary classes, Lahore : Kamran Publishers for Punjab Textbook 
Board, March 1979, p. 38. 

16. Ibid., pp. 40-43. 


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April 2007 

Sheikh Mujibur Rehman is mentioned in derogatory terms in these books 
and his role is generally projected as that of a conspirator. “The six points of 
Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, which envisaged that Pakistan, instead of being a 
State, should be a federation of States. ” ]1 The political uprising in East Pakistan 
is ironically represented in terms of a cyclone and the role of Awami League 
in helping the affected finds an interesting expression: “Elections were to be 
held according to schedule on October 5. But unfortunately, coastal areas of 
East Pakistan were hit by a severe cyclone... Five lac persons were killed and 
innumerable rendered homeless. The cyclone proved to be the best means for 
Sheikh Mujibur Rehman to achieve his political ends... Sheikh Mujibur 
Rehman condemned West Pakistan and tried to create hatred among Bengalis 
against West Pakistanis. ” 18 

The crises which preceded the elections of 1970 were totally attributed 
to Mujibur Rehman and his stand on ‘six points.’ “On December 20, 1970, 
Sheikh Mujibur Rehman declared that he would not budge an inch from his 
‘Six Point’ Programme. It meant that the constitution to be framed by Sheikh 
Mujibur Rehman 's Party in the Constituent Assembly, would leave, only 
Defence and Foreign Affairs for the Federal Government. . . The two provinces 
will be regarded two separate ‘states ’ . But West Pakistan was not at all 
prepared to accept such a constitution... on March 1, 1971, Sheikh Mujibur 
Rehman issued a call for a general strike. Bloody riots broke out in East 
Pakistan that very day... On March 30, President Yahya Khan called a Round 
Table Conference of all political leaders, in which Sheikh Mujibur Rehman 
refused to participate... he issued a call for Civil Disobedience Movement... 
As a result of the Civil Disobedience Movement, Awami League mischief 
mongers acquired control of the Government treasury and other government 
properties. ” 19 

One-sided and halfhearted arguments on the arrest of Sheikh Mujibur 
Rehman, the military operation and the consequent Dhaka fall sum up the 
story. India still dominates the scene. “Sheikh Mujib ’s arrest and military 
action in East Pakistan created a furore in the world. Some countries tried to 
incite the sucessionists. India was in the-vanguard of these countries. India 
not only aided and abetted the sucessionists, but also raised the bogey of 
countless refugees entering India for fear of military action, so that it could 

17. History of Pakistan for class 1X-X, Lahore: Technical Publishers for Punjab Textbook 
Board, March 1977, p. 301. 

18. Ibid., p. 301. 

19. Ibid., p. 303. 

Historical Falsehoods In The Text-Books : A Study Of 1971 War 145 

not stay away from the Bangladesh movement... Indian troops occupied East 
Pakistan on December 16, 1971 and captured over ninety thousand troops 
and civilians... Bangladesh (previously East Pakistan) emerged on the map 
of the world as an independent country. ” 20 

The Bangladeshi textbooks depict a very different picture regarding the 
East and West Pakistan crises. Within a year after the creation of Pakistan, 
"first clash broke out between the two parts on the issue of language... From 
1947 to 1971 East and West Pakistan were together. During these 24 years, 
the central government showed extreme discrimination towards East Pakistan. 
This discrimination was mainly demonstrated in the political, economic, military 
and cultural fields. ” 2i Likewise, the election of 1 970 and post election scenario 
is represented in a very different maimer. These books maintain that the Awami 
League contested the election on the Six-Point Program. The Awami League 
won absolute majority in the elections of 1970. “The people of East Pakistan 
spontaneously voted for Awami League in the hope of the salvation and 
emancipation from the exploitation of the Pakistanis. " 22 However, no political 
party emerged with a clear majority in both East and West Pakistan. 

The results of the election considerably influenced the post-election 
political activities of Pakistan. “ZulfikarAli Bhutto, leader of Pakistan People ’s 
Party and General Yahya Khan prepared a blue print for not handing over 
power to Awami League. ” 23 After the election of 1970, the session of the 
National Assembly was convened of March 3, 1971 in Dhaka. But leader of 
the majority party in West Pakistan ZulfikarAli Bhutto demanded that the six- 
point program be changed and threatened to boycott the session. “The ruling 
clique was indulged in a conspiracy to foil the result of the election i.e. to 
crush the victory of Bengali leadership. ” 24 

General Yahya Khan announced postponement of the National Assembly 
on March 1 for an indefinite period. The announcement of postponement of 
the National Assembly sparked off agitation in East Pakistan. The students 
and masses came into the streets demanding the handing over of power to the 

20. Ibid., pp. 304-305. 

2 1 . Social Science for Class VIII, Dhaka: National Curriculum and Textbook Board, Revised 
Ed. 2002, pp. 75-77. 

22. Social Sciences for Class IX-X, Dhaka: National Curriculum and Textbook Board, 
Revised Ed. 2002, p. 144. 

23. History of Bangladesh and Ancient World Civilizations for Class IX-X, Dhaka: National 
Curriculum and Textbook Board, p. 221. 

24. Secondary Civics, Dhaka: National Curriculum and Textbook Board, Revised Ed. 2002, 
p. 130. 


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April 2007 

elected representatives. “In protest against the announcement Sheikh Mujib 
called to observe hartal in Dhaka city and throughout the country on March 
2 and 3 respectively and the hartal was observed spontaneously... The 
government deployed military to break down the movement. A number of 
persons were shot dead by the Army at Joydebpur and the movement was 
geared up after the killing. To protest this killing Sheikh Mujibur Rahman 
called for a non-violent civil disobedience movement from a rally held at 
Paltan Maidan on March 3 which paralysed the central government. ” 25 

Yahya Khan, at this stage convened a round table conference of the 
political leaders on March 10. But “Sheikh Mujibur Rehman rejected the 
invitation saying, '1 am the last person to attend such a conference over the 
blood of the martyrs’." Seeing the situation totally out of control, General 
Yahya Khan on March 6 summoned the session of the National Assembly on 
March 25th. On March 7, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressed a mass rally at 
the Race Course Maidan. He laid down his four preconditions for joining the 
National Assembly session. The preconditions included the lifting of Martial 
Law; immediate withdrawal of Army to barracks; enquiry into the killing of 
innocent civilians; and transfer of Power to the elected representatives before 
the session started. 

"In reality, every chance of reconciliation with the Pakistani rulers 
became closed. So, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called upon the countrymen to 
be prepared for independence and said, ‘Build up forts in every house and 
resist the enemies with whatever you possess. ’ “This struggle is the struggle 
for emancipation, this struggle is the struggle for independence. ” All the 
government, semi-government offices, courts, mill-factories, educational 
institutions remained closed at the call of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s non- 
cooperation movement creating a deadlock in the administration. The 
noncooperation movement turned into a violent one. Inspired by the struggle 
of independence the Bengalis came out in processions, rallies and chanted the 
slogan: “Our destiny is Padma, Meghna, Jamuna. ” Not Six-Point, but one 
Point i.e. independence and independence.” 26 

General Yahya Khan came to Dhaka on March 15, 1971 and asked 
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to sit for discussion. Discussions started on March 
1 6. The meeting was also attended by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and some other 
leaders from West Pakistan. “But the chief motive of the leaders from West 
Pakistan was to kill time instead of negotiations and they utilised time, by 

25. Ibid., p. 131. 

26. Ibid, p. 132. 

Historical Falsehoods In The Text-Books : A Study Of 1971 War 147 

bringing ammunition and Pakistani troops to crush the demand of independence 
of the Bengalis as a whole... on the night of March 25, General Yahya Khan 
left Dhaka with his companions ordering the Pakistani army to attack and 
kill the unarmed civilians. ” 27 The attack was made at different places and 
towns of the country including Dhaka city, killing hundreds of thousands of 
Bangalis. On March 25, in the dead of the night, the Pakistani army attacked 
Sheikh Mujib’s house, arrested, and took him to Pakistan the following day. 
Even without him, the people of Bangladesh stood up stronger than ever. And 
that was when a new phase began. On April 10, 1971 at Mujibnagar, the 
elected representatives of Awami League issued the Declaration of 
Independence and also announced the formation of the Provisional 

"The Pakistani army started their attack, setting fire and opening fire 
indiscriminately in and around Dhaka City. They killed the innocent people 
and citizens of Dhaka at night when they were in deep sleep. They killed a 
number of people by attacking the residences of the teachers of Dhaka 
University and also Zahurul Haq Hall, Salimullah Muslim Hall, Jagannath 
Hall and the residential areas adjacent to the University campus. Lakhs of 
people crossed the border to take shelter in India. The youths, students and 
others taking training started guerrilla fighting from inside the country. In 
the frontal battle, they were able to bring about the collapse of the Pak army. 
The people of the country rendered all out help to the liberation forces by 
offering them food, clothing and shelter. The Pak army became devastated. ” 28 

The provisional government, after being sworn in, engaged in organizing 
the War of Independence. "The freedom fighters joined the Liberation war 
for liberating the country from the clutches of enemies, even at the cost of 
their lives... In the beginning of 1971, the India-Bangladesh joint command 
was formed. ” 29 From December 3-16, "the Pakistani army had to face the 
joint forces of the Mukti bahini and the Indian army until they became 
completely defenceless... At last on December 16, 1971 at Suhrawardy Uddyan 
( Race Course Maidan) the Commander of the Pakistani Army General Niazi 
surrendered with 93 thousand enemy forces and huge quantities of arms and 
ammunitions. The name of Independent and Sovereign Bangladesh was at 
last written in the map of the world in letters of blood. ” 30 

27. Ibid., p. 132. 

28. Ibid., p. 134. 

29. Op. cit.. Social Sciences for Class IX-X, pp. 147, 150. 

30. Op. cit., Secondary Civics for IX-X, p. 135. 


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April 2007 

An insight into Pakistani textbooks reveal that the omissions, 
misrepresentation of facts and promulgation of state-dominated ideologies 
has led to a complete distortion of historical facts. On the contraiy, Bangladeshi 
textbooks project a comparatively close representation of facts. But, ironically, 
these facts are presented in a way that suits Bangladesh’s state ideology. The 
question is, if textbooks of both the countries present different versions of 
the facts, then where is the truth? For instance, the Pakistani textbooks, in 
general, project that the 1971 war occurred because of India, which, after 
the 1965 war, with the help of Hindus living in East Pakistan, invited the 
people of that province against the people of West Pakistan. Finally India 
invaded East Pakistan in December 1971. The result of this ‘conspiracy’ was 
that in December 1 971 East Pakistan separated from West Pakistan. However, 
the Bangladeshi textbooks maintain that General Yahya Khan’s visit, along 
with leaders from West Pakistan, to Dhaka on March 15,1971 and subsequent 
discussions with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were not aimed at resolving the 
crises. But the chief motive of the leaders from West Pakistan was to kill time 
instead, and they utilised this time by bringing ammunition and Pakistani troops 
to crush the civil rights of Bengalis. At his departure from Dhaka on the night 
of March 25, General Yahya Khan ordered the Pakistani army to attack and 
kill the unarmed civilians. 

On the other hand, the areas where both the states are not in conflict, 
e.g. the past glory of Muslims and the Islamic invasions in the subcontinent, 
the facts are presented almost in the similar perspective. But the conflicts in 
state ideologies e.g. Pakistan’s regret over the loss of East Pakistan and the 
latter’s resultant feelings of threat to their freedom and maltreatment of Bengalis 
by West Pakistanis, have a direct impact on the narration of history in the 
textbooks. The general impression these books carry is the inability to deal 
with the contradictions. But these contradictions must be dealt with and histoiy 
should be supplemented by historical evidence. History, being purely objective 
or scientific, is an ideal which should be properly pursued. However, history 
is almost always partisan and it depends on who tells the story and what is the 
evidence. In view of the complex nature of the issue and its direct interaction 
with such a great tragedy it becomes necessary to analyse not only the various 
opinions about Dhaka Fall — 1971, but also the very nature of the subject of 
history and the methods and ways used to ‘arrive’ at the truth. 

The events of history can define a period of time or can even define a 
nation. History is taking an in-depth look at the past that is still very relevant 
to life today. History is an event, very far past or not so far past whose 
evidence and data has been analysed, scrutinized, and also interpreted until 
almost all facts are found to be correct. However, very often at times, these 

Historical Falsehoods In The Text-Books : A Study Of 1971 War 149 

events in history are not recorded by a primary source and have been found 
to be inaccurate. History, will very seldom be recorded in a way that is infallible 
since facts can be misconstrued or distorted to the point that rumours of 
these events are created. Always in need of rewriting and re-examining, history 
should never be described as a closed case.’ Since discovering what has 
occurred in the past can prevent or aid in the events to come, careful scrutiny 
of history is crucial to our future. 

The criticism of historians who write “present - minded” history lead 
one to wonder how history can be written without present day influences. 
Secondly, history of political views could be influenced by a historian’s 
presently held political views and assumptions of the direction in which history 
goes. Historians would, at this point, acknowledge similarities between past 
events, and present events and also separate people from the past as good or 
bad, losers or winners. Usually many of the historical accounts are seen from 
a partisan view and therefore some become inaccurate. However, while 
attempting to correct and rewrite them it is not surprising if one finds that 
history is constantly being re-examined and rewritten without anyone really 
knowing it. It is near impossible to tie together past events to events of the 
present as even after perfect attempts, there would still be missing pieces, 
such as events or conversations that prohibit accurate recording of the events. 
Some historians are blamed for not being objective; however we must all see 
how easy a trap it is to fall into. The so-called ‘truths’ that we grew up 
learning have turned out to be the candy covered versions of real history. 

To stay objective is to have no opinions at all and be an independent 
thinker. With all of the outside influences and personal opinions, it is almost 
impossible to record history without some flash of one’s own personality 
reflecting in it. History is only as important as the source that it comes from; 
be that primary, secondary or tertiary. Keeping in view the partisan nature of 
history, the provision of multiple and contradictory versions is very important 
so as to facilitate the process of arriving at truth through alternatives and 
logical choices. 

The fall of East Pakistan is a tragedy, but it has no redeeming feature of 
human greatness or a relieving end in catharsis, it is just a tale of shameful 
failure, an ignominious disaster. There were mainly two causes of this event. 
First, the policy of the Government of Pakistan which alienated the bigger 
part of the country from the idea of Pakistan itself. They were never allowed 
to feel that they were Pakistanis. Second, the way the protagonists tackled 
the developing crises. “The Bengalis felt that they were being treated like a 
colony. And there were grounds for this feeling. They could sense a colonial 
snobbery in the general behaviour of the West Pakistanis which was the cause 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

of their political and economic grievances. No one could have guessed that 
the country ’s first free elections of 1970 would end in the dismemberment of 
Pakistan. Neither of the two political champions were able to accept anything 
less than the supreme power. The Military Chief was not without ambitions of 
his own, a power rested in his hands... He provoked and aggravated the use 
of military power for solving the political crisis. He was outdone by the mass 
power of East Bengal and the superior, cleverer power of the Indian Military. ” 31 
We should tell our children the truth about the fall of Dhaka, but we 
should know the truth, first. In our part of Pakistan, it is generally believed 
that “Zulflkar Ali Bhutto alone was responsible for the break-up. The country 
could have been saved if he had accepted the Awami League s six point 
constitution because it had emerged as the majority party. In the former East 
Pakistan, Sheikh Mujib is blamed for the country ’s dismemberment because 
he was inflexible on constitutional issues. It was he who invited a ruthless 
army action which resulted in public massacres sealing the fate of a united 
Pakistan. The fundamentalist Jamaat-i-Islami, backed by the Beharis 
contributed to the holocaust, in the name of Islam and Urdu. This is only 
partially true. The seeds of the break-up of Pakistan were sowed very early in 
the day. Feudal politicians of West Pakistan, their civil and military 
bureaucracy, and the newly emerging industrial class had monopolised state 
power. They were not ready to share it with the Bengalis. They were exploited 
and treated with contempt. They were culturally, politically and economically 
oppressed. The long years ofAyub Khan s military dictatorship frustrated the 
Bengalis, finally there was no hope for democracy and development for them. 
But they did not want separation. They stood for provincial autonomy, until 
the West Pakistani armed forces started their reign of terror. ” 32 

We should stop distorting history to suit the interest of the authoritarian 
rulers. Our children must face reality boldly, understand the compulsion and 
complexities of the 1960’s and 1970’s and also know the root cause of why 
the country was sundered apart. In the opinion of Shahnaz Wazir Ali, an ex- 
minister for education. East and West Pakistan were 1200 miles apart with a 
hostile country in between. The people of East Pakistan were weaker than 
those of West Pakistan in education, industry, trade and had little representation 
in civil and military services. Bengali language and literature had deep roots in 
the minds of the Bengalis, and they were not prepared to accept Urdu as their 

3 1 . “What Should we tell our children about East Pakistan”, The Frontier Post, December 

32. Ibid. 

Historical Falsehoods In The Text-Books : A Study Of 1971 War 151 

national language. These factors had their impact right from 1947. The 
government of Pakistan was controlled by West Pakistanis even though East 
Pakistan had a larger population. Failure of the government of Pakistan to 
adopt effective measures to raise the status of the people of East Pakistan in 
education, industry, trade, representation in services naturally started 
generating discontent in the people of East Pakistan. Bengalis called the West 
Pakistani civil and military officers who controlled their administration as 
‘Brown Sahibs.’ This discontent gave birth to several movements for political 
and economic autonomy. 

These movements climaxed in the total victory of Awami League in the 
general elections held under General Yahya’s Martial Law Government in 
1970. Awami League was now entitled to form the government of Pakistan. 
But General Yahya Khan, many West Pakistan politicians, the civil and military 
services, did not accept the democratic rights of East Pakistan’s people. The 
Awami League was prepared to formulate a confederal relationship between 
East and West Pakistan. But Yahya Khan and People’s Party were not prepared 
to let the East Pakistanis decide the future shape of Pakistan and Yahya Khan 
refused to call the session of the National Assembly. The people of East 
Pakistan broke into confrontation with Yahya Khan’s government. On March 
25, 1971 Yahya Khan gave control of East Pakistan to the armed forces. 

The warlike action of the armed forces against the revolting East 
Pakistanis drove millions of Bengalis to take refuge across the border in India. 
The accumulation of a vast number of refugees frightened India of the 
repercussions - on its administration and its population. India also saw this as 
an opportunity for weakening Pakistan and proving the failure of the idea of 
Muslims of India being one nation. India helped the militant Mukti Bahini of 
the revolting East Pakistanis when it noticed the destructive operations of the 
Pakistan armed forces in East Pakistan. 

Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian troops to enter East Pakistan. West 
Pakistan finally surrendered to the Indian forces on December 16, 1971. 
From that moment. East Pakistan became Bangladesh. 33 The experience of 
the transformation of East Pakistan into Bangladesh teaches humanity a 
fundamental truth, that people’s aspirations for justice, freedom, quality and 
dignity have a stronger effect on human conduct than the sentiment of religion. 
However, the best explanation of the East Pakistan tragedy is that instead of 
mourning the past, we should learn from it. 

33 . Ibid. 


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April 2007 


1 . Evaluating the veracity (truthfulness) of texts is very important. As 
state-dominant ideologies are promulgated through textbooks in both 
the countries, it becomes necessary to evaluate the texts keeping in 
mind that each country would neglect to mention its role in the atrocities 
or misgivings, and may in fact blame them on someone else. In this 
context, for instance West Pakistan neglects its role of keeping East 
Pakistan as a colony and shifts its blame on India. 

2 . Second comes the balance between credibility and reliability of historical 

Reliability refers to our ability to trust the consistency of 
the historian’s account of the truth. A reliable text displays a pattern 
of verifiable truth-telling that tends to render the unverifiable parts 
of the text true. The textbooks of both Pakistan and Bangladesh may 
prove to be utterly reliable in detailing the campaigns during the 1 97 1 
war, as evidence by corroborating records. The only gap in their 
reliability may be the omission of details about the real causes and 
their own mistakes. 

Credibility refers to our ability to trust the historian’s account 
of the truth on the basis of her or his tone and reliability. For instance, 
nowhere in the Pakistani textbooks is it mentioned that feudal politicians 
of West Pakistan, their civil and military bureaucracy, and the newly 
emerging industrial class had monopolised state power and were not 
ready to share it with the Bengalis which became a major cause of 
dismemberment of Pakistan. A textbook that is inconsistently truthful 
loses credibility. There are many other ways these textbooks undermine 
their credibility. Most frequently, they convey in their tone that they 
are not neutral. For example, the books may intersperse throughout 
their reliable account of campaign details vehement and racist attacks 
of Pakistan Army against Bengalis and vice versa. Such attacks signal 
readers that these books may have an interest in not portraying the 
past accurately, and hence may undermine their credibility, regardless 
of their reliability. 

A historical account which seems quite credible may be utterly 
unreliable. The textbook which takes a measured, reasoned tone and 
anticipates counter-arguments may seem to be veiy credible, when 
in fact it presents us with complete balderdash. Similarly, a reliable 
historical account may not always seem credible. It should also be 
clear that individual texts themselves may have portions that are more 
reliable and credible than others. 

Excerpts from the textbooks of each country clearly establish that 


Historical Falsehoods In The Text-Books : A Study Of 1971 War 153 

while narrating history it has an “axe to grind” which renders the 
accounts unreliable. 

Neutrality refers to the stake the historian has in a text. As, 
in our case, the state’s view is predominant. There seems a 
considerable stake in the memoirs, which would expunge their own 
guilt. In an utterly neutral document, the creator is not aware that 
she or he has any special stake in the construction and content of the 
document. Very few texts are ever completely neutral. People generally 
do not go to the trouble to record their thoughts unless they have a 
purpose or design which renders them invested in the process of 
creating the text. Some historical texts, such as birth records, may 
appear to be more neutral than others, because their creators seem to 
have had less of a stake in creating them. (For instance, the county 
clerk who signed several thousand birth certificates had less at stake 
in creating an individual birth certificate than did a celebrity recording 
her life in a diary for future publication as a memoir.) 

Objectivity refers to an author’s ability to convey the truth 
free of underlying values, cultural presuppositions, and biases. Many 
scholars argue that no text is or ever can be completely objective, for 
all texts are the products of the culture in which their authors lived. 
Many authors pretend to objectivity when they might better seek for 
neutrality. The author who claims to be free of bias and presupposition 
should be treated with suspicion: no one is free of their values. The 
credible author acknowledges and expresses those values so that 
they may be accounted for in the text where they appear. Therefore, 
objectivity is something which should be taken for granted. 

Finally, the integrity of ‘Epistemology’ should be observed. 
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature 
of knowledge. How do you know what you know? What is the truth, 
and how is it determined? While evaluating the causes and aftermath 
of Dhaka Fall- 1 97 1 and its projection in corresponding textbooks the 
important questions to reflect upon are: What could be known of the 
past based on this text? How sure could one be about it? How does 
one know these things? 

This can be an extremely difficult question. Ultimately, we 
cannot know everything with complete assurance, because even our 
senses may fail us. Yet we can conclude, with reasonable accuracy, 
that some things are more likely to be true than others (for instance, 
it is more likely that the sun will rise tomorrow than that a human will 
learn to fly without wings or other support). The task of historians 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

and students is to make and justify decisions about the relative veracity 
of historical texts, and portions of them. To do this, a solid command 
of the principles of sound reasoning are required. 

Acknowledgement Note 

This brief study is a unique work as it is solely based on analysis of the 
misrepresentation of East Pakistan, events of 1971 and subsequent formation 
of Bangladesh. But, at the same time, it is a continuation of the earlier studies 
on the topic as the authors have touched upon this issue in addition to others. 
Rubina Saigol has presented the issue in her book Knowledge and Identity 
Articulation of Gender in Educational Discourse in Pakistan. She maintains 
that, “The curriculum is virtually silent about 1971, at best referring to the 
creation of Bangladesh as an Indian conspiracy. “ On this subject, she has 
written a paper as well, “History, Social Studies and Civics and the Creation 
of Enemies" published in Social Science in the 1990s by Akbar Zaidi (COSS 
2003). Yvette Claire Rosser’s paper, “Hegemony and Historiography” is quite 
valuable as she has done a comparative analysis of Indian, Pakistani and 
Bangladeshi textbooks. 

Acknowledgements are due to all those who have taken part in earlier 
studies, as these studies have been an integral part of the research process. 
However, the findings that result from this research do not necessarily represent 
the opinions or policy positions of the other authors or institutions. I would 
also like to thank Mohi-ud-din Hashmi, who worked as Research Associate in 
completion of this study. 


Sukhdial Singh * 

We know that the Hindustani civilization was originated on the banks 
of river Sindh and this river remained the backbone of Indian socio-culture 
and economic life. Therefore, the river Sindh is for India what the Nile is to 
Egypt and the Rhine to France. The Indus Valley Civilization too first inhabited 
and then flourished on its banks and in its basin. It developed between 3200 
B.C and 1750 B.C. and became a rich civilization. The Sindh is written as 
Hind in the Avesthai or Farsi literature. Here Farsi does not mean Persian- 
Arabic. Here it means the Farsi of the Farse Country (modem Iran). It was 
the earlier home of the Rig Vedic Aryan. The ‘S’ of Vedic literature is called 
‘H' in the Avesthai or Farsi literature. It is pertinent to mention that Sindh, 
Sindhu and Sindhstan has been written as Hind, Hindu and Hindustan in the 
Avesthai or Farsi literature. In the light of this the names Hindustan, Hindu 
and Hind are given by the Avesthai people. 1 Hindustan means the Sindh basin 
area. The Hindu means the inhabitant of this region. My opinion is that the 
Indus valley civilization was in real sense the Hindustani civilization and its 
inhabitants were called the Hindus. Those Hindus were entirely different from 
the people of Vedic times. Therefore the Indus valley Hindus are the pre- 
Aryan and non- Aryan people. 

Three characteristics of Indus valley civilization have been accepted by 
the scholars of ancient Indian history unanimously. Firstly, it was a pure 
Hindustani civilization; secondly, it was a well-developed civilization; and 
thirdly its people worshipped Lord Shiv It means that the Lord Shiv was the 
supreme diety of the people of Indus valley civilization. In fact, the people of 
Indus valley were most civilized, cultural as well as prosperous. 

The legends are the main sources of the ancient Indian history. According 
to these legends, the Jats were originated from the matted hair or elf-locks of 
the Maha Shiv. If these legends carry some weight then it can safely be said 
that the Maha Shiv was the fore-father of the Jats. There is one more view, 
i.e. when the Aryans came into the cis-Indus region they faced the local 

* Reader, Department of Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala (Pb.). 
1. Rajbali Pande, Prachin Bharat, Nand Kishore and Sons, Varanasi, 1976, pp. 1-2. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

inhabitants. These were agriculturists and had the matted hair on their heads 
and their bodies were also hairy. The Aryans called these people as Jattaan 
( zfzj) W ale log or Jat (^rt) wale log (the people with matted hair or the people 
with hairy skins.) Thus, the inhabitants of the Sindh region and the people of 
the land of the five rivers were began to be called as Jatt (jJi) 2 

Though Lord Shiv is included, today, among the Aryan deities yet he is 
still considered as the oldest deity. The present Indus basin was dominated by 
the Jats. It means that from the times immemorial, as the later Vedic literature 
tells us, the Sindh basin is being dominated by the Jats. Such a long span is a 
proof in itself that the Jats and only the Jats remained the masters of this 
region. It is the law of nature that only the conquerors are the masters of the 
land. Therefore, a question arises, how did these Jats remain the masters of 
this region through out the Ages? And how were the Aryans ousted from this 
area? Another question which needs our attention and also the answer, is, 
where have those Hindus gone who inhabited the Indus basin before the 
arrival of the Aryans? Doubtlessly, we get the Maha Shiv in the sentiments of 
the people, we also get the land as well as its owners. Why are these people 
not considered as the original inhabitants of this region? 

As a matter of fact, the river Sindh got itself its name from the Lord 
Shiv i.e. the Shiv river. By the long process of time the name Shiv river was 
changed into the Sindh river, just like Sindh was called as Hind in the Avesthai 
literature and Indus by the Greeks. A Greek book, ThePeriplus of the Erythrean 
Sea written in 82 A.D. gives a very important information about the river 
Sindh, its land and people. According to this information the lower Indus 
valley was known as Scythia, and Scythia was meant as the Sindh land. The 
Aratta tribe was one of the tribes who inhabited this land. 3 Perhaps this was 
the first time when the Scythia word was used in a Greek book. Scythia is 
itself a Greek word which meant the lower Indus basin. The word ‘Scythia’ 
was adopted by the later writers, no doubt, but they forget its real meaning. 
The lower Indus basin was left and ignored and the Scythia was assumed to 
be situated anywhere in the Central Asia. This blunder mistake of the later 
writers entirely changed the definition of the word Scythia. Thus the Jats are 
made, unknowingly or mistakenly, the scythians, i.e. who came from Scythia 
(central Asia). 

As a matter of fact, the whole of the Indus basin is divided by our 

2. See also J.D. Cunningham, History of The Sikhs, New Delhi, 1985, p. 299. 

3. As quoted in D.C. Circar's article 'Ancient Geography of the Punjab' in L.M. Joshi and 
Fauja Singh (eds.), History of the Punjab, Voi. I, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1 977, p. 36. 

Jats : The Original Inhabitants Of India 


authors throughout the Ages, into two sub-parts, i.e., the upper Indus Valley 
and the lower Indus Valley. The upper Indus Valley was known by its very 
proper name but the lower Indus Valley was known by the different names 
according to the times and languages. For example in Greek it was called 
Scythia as has already been written. In early Vedic literature it was called 
Sarsvant, the son of Sindh. In the later Vedic literature it was called Souvir 
(Sindh and Souvir). Today, in Punjabi it is being called Sindh-SagarDoab. So 
the word Scythia is misinterpreted and misunderstood by our modem writers. 
It is the Lower Indus Valley area and the Jats are the original inhabitants of 
this area. 

Some other tribes also derived its names from the Lord Shiv. For 
example, the Sibois, who are mentioned in early Vedic literature, were living 
in the Doab of the Jehlum and the Chenab, also derived its name from the 
Lord Shiv. These Sibois were primarily called as Sivis or Sibis or ‘Sivai's. 
These Sibois dressed themselves like the Saiva devotees with the skins of 
wild beasts and kept the clubs in their hands. Their capital was called Shivapur 
or Sihipur. 4 According to the Skanda Purana this State of Shivapur had ten 
thousand villages in its area . 4 5 The modem name of this city is Shahpur. It is 
an important city of modem Chaj Doab of the West Punjab. In the same way, 
the Sairtdhvas who lived on the banks of the Sindh were began to call as 
Sandhus. The Sandhus, today, are very important Jats of the Punjab. All these 
names suggest themselves that these were derived from the very name of the 
Lord Shiv. It means that the Lord Shiv was the forefather of the Jats as has 
been said earlier also. 

The fact is that the Indus valley civilization was not the Vedic civilization. 
It is quite apparent, why nothing is being given in the early Vedic literature 
about it. Very little is in the Vedic sources about the non -Aryans and their 
culture. Some races and tribes are mentioned in the early as well as in the later 
Vedic sources as the enemies of the Aryans. These tribes were certainly the 
non-Aryans and these were called Dasas, Dasyus or Asur as in the early Vedic 
literature and Arattas, Jartikas or the people with immorality in the later Vedic 
literature. When all these names are compared with each other then it becomes 
quite clear and is automatically proved that the whole of the Vedic literature 
continuously speaks against the people of the Indus basin area. Therefore, it 
may be said safely that the information given in the Vedic literature is biased 
and not true. So, the Vedic literature has never remained the literature of the 

4. Ibid., p. 35. 

5. As quoted by D.C. Circar, Ibid., p. 40. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

masses. In the words of L.M. Joshi, “The Dasas, Dasyus and Nisadas had a 
civilization and culture superior to that of the Aryans. The meaning 'demon’ 
seems to have been rooted in the Aryan's disapproval of or hatred for the non- 
Aryan’s speech and culture. Let us not forget that the Brahmans did not 
hesitate to refer to Buddhists and Jainas as asuras or demons .” 6 Actually, 
these were the non-Aryan or pre-Aryan Hindus, the builders of the Indus 
Valley civilization and these very Hindus were called Jats by the Aryan invaders. 

Unfortunately, the script of the Indus valley civilization could not be 
deciphered but one thing is clear that it was not Sanskrit at all. It was destroyed 
by the Aryans. There was a war between the invader Aryans and the inhabitants 
of the land of the five rivers. This war is mentioned in the Rig Ved as Das 
Rajan Yudh. The Punjabis got themselves united into the confederation of 
ten rulers. The ten rulers of this region faced the invading Aryans unitedly. 
The names of these ten rulers were : the Madras, the Yadus, the Turvasas, the 
Anus, the Druhyus, the Salavs, the Malavs, the Bhallans or Bhullings, the 
Shivas, or Sibois. These ten rulers were led by Bheda, Sambar, Ilbish, Chumuri, 
and Dhanna. The Aryan forces were led by overall command of Sudaas. 7 The 
war was spread over the whole area between the Ravi and the Sarasvati. The 
Aryans led by Sudaas and his two princes reached the banks of the Sarasvati 
where they worshipped the Agni. 

Most probably, the Aryan tribes could not settle in the Punjab because 
the Jats of this region compelled them not to stay but to proceed further 
towards the Ganga- Yamuna Doab. The tribes of the land of the five rivers, 
which are mentioned in the Vedic literature (early or later) were prominently, 
the Madras, the Malavs, the Bhulings, the Salavs, the Mallois and the saindwas 
and these very Jats were called Dasas, Dasyus, Asuras, Rakhshases in the 
early Vedic text. 

The Mahabharata gives clearer information about the Jats and their 
country than the early Vedic literature. In the words of D.C. Circar, “The 
Mahabharata gives us to understand that the five rivers watering this land 
are the Satadru, Vipasa, Iravati, Qhanderbhaga and Vitasta, together with 
'the sixth’ which is the Sindhu and the people of the country were called 
Vahika or Bahika and also often Pancanada, the names of some of their 
prominent tribes being Jartika (Jat), Aratta and Madra. ” 8 At another place 

6. L.M. loshi and Fauja Singh (eds.), op. cit., p. 6. 

7. Sisir Kumar Mitra and Adhir Kumar Chakarvarti's. article 'The Coming of Aryans and 
their Expansion', in L.M. Joshi and Fauja Singh, op. cit., pp. 64, 65. 

8. 'Ancient Geography of the Punjab’, in L.M. Joshi, op. cit., p. 27. 

Jats : The Original Inhabitants Of India 


the same writer writes that “the Mahabharata mentions some of the Punjab 
tribes as Madra, Jartika and Aratta and calls them collectively Bahika or 
Vahika and sometimes also Pancanad. ” 9 The Mahabharata is a legendary 
account of the Kaurvas and the Pandavas, which are depicted as the cousins 
but actually these cousins represent the Aryans and non -Aryans. The Kaurvas 
represented the non -Aryans and the Pandavas represented the Aryans. All the 
Jat forces of the cis-Indus area sided with the Kaurvas while the forces 
belonging to the Aryans of the Sarasvati-Yamuna and the Yamuna-Ganga Doab 
were on the side of the Pandavas. In the words of L.M. Joshi, “It has been 
suggested that the Pandavas were Aryans and the Kaurvas were non -Aryans, 
that the former has been portrayed as righteous heroes while the latter has 
been depicted as mean and wretched people, that this picture represents just 
the reverse of the original character of these people .” 10 

The greatest event of the Mahabharata is war between the Kauravas 
and the Pandavas. Karan is one of the heroes of the war. His tragedy was that 
he was an illicit child of his mother Kunti. Therefore, the Aryan society shunted 
him out. No sect of the society accepted him. No institution admitted him for 
education. Only Duryodhan, the elder son of Dhirt Rashtra, gave him shelter. 
Thus, despite being the son of Kunti, Karan had to fight against the Pandavas, 
the other five sons of Kunti, i.e., Karan’s step brothers. In ‘Karan Parabh ’, 
of the Mahabharata, there are Karan’s remarks against the Jats and their 
country. The Jat Raja Salhya was his charioteer. When Karan failed in his 
attempt to terrorise the Pandavas, Salhya reminded him of his defaulted war- 
strategy which Karan could not hear and at once retaliated by abusing Salhya. 
Salhya was a Jat ruler of the Madra tribe. Karan abused the Madras, the Jats, 
their women and their country. It is believed, “When Salhya, while driving his 
chariot, heaps insult and scorn on Karan, the latter retaliates sharply by abusing 
in bitterest terms the Madras or rather the Panchand, people in general .” 11 
Calling in full anger the Madra people as wicked, ungrateful, false and crooked, 
Karan further says that “in their houses, the parents, sons, daughters, parents- 
in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, sisters, brothers, friends and guests 
and others including maids and attendants — all men and women — freely mix 
up with each other..... They eat barley-meal, meat and fish and drink wine. 
They indulge in loud shouting and laughter singing songs with no rhythm of 

9. Ibid 

10. History of The Punjab, p. 22. 

11. D.K. Gupta's article, 'The Punjab As Reflected In The Epic', in L.M. Joshi, op. cit., 
p. 173. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

music. They are lax in their talk and behaviour and are arrogant. ...One should 
not enter into either friendship or enemity with the Madra people, for there is 
no spirit of friendship in them, the sinful ones.” Comparing the Jats with the 
dirtiest symbols, Karan says again, “The malechhas constitute the dirt of the 
human beings, the vintners that of the malechhas the eunuchs that of the 
vintners and the Madras, that of the eunuchs .” 12 

Speaking about the brave and socially free Jat women, Karan observes, 
“The Madra women are tall and healthy, white in complexion and are gluttons. 
They put on a woolen blanket over their shoulders and are impure and lack 
modesty... The female demon of Sakalas (the Sials of Sialkot) who on every 
fourteenth night of the dark fortnight sang, along with the people of the city, 
a song that glorified the taking of strong drinks and the meat of pig, donkey, 
camel, cow, sheep and cocks .” 13 

Speaking about the Jats, Karan says, “one should avoid the company of 
the Vahikas who are excommunicated, so to say, by the mountain Himalaya 
and the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati and also by the holy Kurukshetra. 
They are irreligious and impure. They eat parched barley — meal with beef 
and garlic and drink wine distilled from molasses. They usually take cakes of 
wheat flour, fried barley and meat. Unrestrained in their loose talk they became 
more so on festive occasions. The people of Aratta, take their meals in wooden 
and earthen plates not properly cleaned and also use as their food, the milk 
and milk-products of sheep, she-camels and she-asses.” As a matter of fact, 
all these characteristics as told by Karan are baseless and unfounded in the 
Jat community. There was no tradition among the Jats to eat the meat of 
cows, she-donkeys or she-camels. Rather, they were the cow-worshippers. 
Early Vedic Aryans, instead, ate beef and drank wine which was called somras. 
Indera, their hero, was very notorious in the case of sex and wine. In the 
words of Prof. Buddha Prakash, “He is also very fond of drink, an excessive 
soma-drinker. Intoxicated and exhilarated by strong drink, he charges his 
adversaries and even kills his father. He is also greatly addicted to sensual 
pleasure and is shown to be using drugs to remove his exhaustion after 
excessive indulgence .” 14 The Jats are cow-protectors. However, “These remarks 
are an exaggerated account of the food-habit of the people of the land of the 
five rivers and also of their cheerful spirit and joviality and general courage 

12. Ibid, p. 174. 

13. Ibid 

14. Evolution of Heroic Tradition In Ancient Panjab, Punjabi University, Patiala, 2001, 
p. 12. 

Jats : The Original Inhabitants Of India 


and gallantry .” 15 Above all, these remarks, instead, show Karan’s own mental 
sickness. Being an illicit child of his mother, Karan himself was a psychic. 

Actually, the authors of the later Vedic literature were so cunning in 
their efforts to corrupt the originality of the primitive people or to assimilate 
them into their own culture that the pre-Aryan and non- Vedic elements of 
faith and culture were appropriated so thoroughly that they had become the 
core-elements of the orthodox Brahmanical society. It is difficult now to 
identify them in their original form. At present, India is a repository of a 
composite culture and this is like an ocean in which several rivers have mingled 
their waters. More than seventy five percent of this culture and civilization, 
this subcontinent owes much to its non -Aryan fore-fathers. When the Aryans 
came into this land of Sindh basin, the bulk of the population was ethnically 
and culturally non -Aryan or non-Indo-European. This non -Aryan element of 
this region was the most civilized and socially advanced. 

Lord Shiv was the supreme Deity of non -Aryan and pre-Aryan Indians 
and in the early Vedic literature he is mentioned as a Lord of uncivilized Dasas 
or Dasyus or the Asuras but in the later Vedic text he has been included and 
assimilated among the Aryan Deities. Besides him, there are other non -Aryan 
Deities also like Krishan, Kuber, Ganesh, Devi, Hanuman and several others. 
All these Deities had been assimilated among the Aryan-Deities. Not a small . 
number of beast fables in classical Indian literature, myths, legends, heroic 
tales and pseudo-histories presented in Aryan garb in the Ramayana, 
Mahabharata and Pur anas seem to have been non -Aryan in origin. The history 
was repeated in the case of Lord Buddh. He was abused and reviled as an 
atheist (nastik), as a demon (asura) and as an out caste (sudra), by the earlier 
learned authors of the Vedic literature. But in the later Vedic text Lord Buddh 
was accepted as the ninth Avtaar of God and began to be worshipped by all 
of the sects of Aryan society. The seemingly everlasting vitality of the 
Brahmanical text lies here in its tendency to assimilate and homologize all 
that is necessary for its survival and acceptance. Similarly, the Jats were 
assimilated into the Rajput tribes so thoroughly that they have compelled to 
think that they were the part and parcel of the Rajputs. Today, the Jats are 
considered as the bi-products of the Rajputs. 

The biggest tragedy in the case of the study of the Jats is that they have 
no source material of their own on which their history may be based. All the 
information has to be drawn only from the Sanskrit sources which are 
produced by the Brahmans. It is to be noted that the authors, who wrote in 

15. D.K, Gupta's article, op. cit., p. 173. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

Sanskrit, were not familiar with the local traditions of the Jats. Therefore, 
they corrupted the names and traditions of the Jats while writing about them 
in Sanskrit. Secondly, the names given in Sanskrit could not be understood 
and pronounced properly by the English or regional translators. The proper 
pronunciation, thus, was corrupted time and again during the process of 
writing, re-writing and translation. So, the names written in the Vedic texts 
can not be identified properly with the present Jat tribes. Moreover, often 
after ten to twenty generations a new branch of the Jats was created from a 
sub-caste. The branches, created in this way, through the ages, might be in 
hundreds and during this process of growth and evolution, the original sub- 
caste of the Jats has been forgotten. At present, every Jat sub-caste has its 
numerous branches and sub-branches. 

Even then, some names of the Jat tribes mentioned in the Vedic literature 
can be identified with the present sub-castes of the Jats. For example, the 
Madras of the Vedic text, can be identified with the Manders of modern 
times. The Manders have more than a dozen branches of their sub-caste- 
fellows. Similarly the Malavs of the Vedic text can be identified with the 
various sub-castes of the Malwai Jats. The Malwa area of the Punjab has 
remained Jat dominated region from its very early times. The very name 
Malwa has also been drawn from the Malwai Jats. The Bhullings can be 
identified with the Bhullers of modem time and so the Salavs with the Salhs 
or Sials of the modem time. 

There is a word in the Vedic literature which has been often misinterpreted 
and that word is Vahika. It is interpreted as ‘outsider’ by almost all of the 
interpreters. But it is absolutely wrong. The actual meaning of Vahika is 
‘agriculturist’; ‘a man who ploughs the land’. The Jats are agriculturists 
since the time immemorial. They were not nomadics. The authors of the 
Vedic period said them Vahikas. Even today the words Vahi and Vahikar are 
prevalent in the Punjab. Moreover, these are well-known and clearly understood 
words. The Vahi means ‘ploughing’ and the Vahikar means the man who 
ploughs the land’. So Vahika does not mean ‘outsider’. It means ‘agriculturist’. 
Therefore, when the Vedic authors write that the country beyond the Sarasvati 
belongs to the Vahikas it means that the inhabitants of that country were 
agriculturists who were known as the Jat tribes. They ruled the country 
between the Sindh and the Sarasvati. That country was known as Hindustan 
and the Punjab was a part and parcel of Hindustan. 


The Social Life of Money in the English Past, 
by Deborah Valenze, Published by O.U.P., New Delhi, 2006, pp. 308. 

It was in the mid-eighteenth century that money assumed its modern, 
rational form. That it was otherwise in the earlier period is difficult to imagine 
for us. That is the otherness, the alterity of the past. In the earlier period there 
was a shortage of coin. There was no provision for "the poor's need to get 
money and to spend it quickly again". James I issued farthing (one fourth of 
a penny) token in 1613 "a great comfort to the poorer sort of the people.” 
Sometimes people adapted to what was available. In the coastal towns of 
England, Spanish pieces of eight and 'diver's sorts of Dollers' passed as tender. 
It was claimed in 1614 that 400 types of coins circulated in the low countries, 
and 82 in France. 

The Great Recoinage of 1696 represented the last chapter in the 
struggle over rightful public authority over circulating coin. The conflict 
between the intrinsic and token value of money had yet to be resolved. 
Stamping was originally 'an assurance of weight of precious metal so that 
scales not be used'. The coin was imbued with the king's presence and authority. 
The late seventeenth century used 'quid' (colloquialism for pound today) as 
slang for guinea, derived from 'quiddity', meaning the real nature or essence 
of thing. 

In America colonial governments enacted to make timber, cattle furs, 
dairy produce, musket balls, oats, pork legal tender. Trade with the merchants 
abroad led to the first issue of the paper money (for amounts as small as a 
penny). The colonists realized that shortage of currency linked to precious 
metals made prices for their goods fall, while an increase in any medium 
resulted in higher prices and brisker trade. Precious metals remained associated 
with rule from above, while commodity money was capable of representing 
the vox papuli as a gesture of defiance against excessive limitations imposed 
by colonial authority. 

In 1760 Antigua passed an act that ruled out paying taxes in 
commodities. The opposite occurred in St. Christopher in 1784, where the 
government recognised that because of the use of specie' may be burdensome 
and oppressive' taxes 'may be in cash, sugar, or rum, at the option of the 
person or persons liable'. We have yet to work the extent of hardship on the 
Punjabi peasants when the British rule made the payment of land revenue in 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

cash compulsory. 

In London, monetary experiments took the form of promissory notes, 
bank notes and other forms of paper credit. Leather money persisted in the 
isle of Man, while Scottish villagers used iron nails as money in the eighteenth 
century. Small and remote communities possessing little money are apt to 
revert to the use of produce for monetary purposes. 

Fransiscans forbade followers to touch coins because their mere 
presence prompted sensations of corruption. Coins could also represent a 
form of contract - an 'earnest money' or 'gods penny' between believers and 

Secularization of society has severed wealth from the notion of 
abundance indicating the intervention of divine will to be reduced to money, a 
sign with no referent. 

Thomas Aquinas seconded Aristotle's belief in the wrongfulness of 
lending for profit, arguing that 'a kind of birth takes place when money grows 
from (other) money. Counter currents of thought were established upon the 
notion that ownership of money could claim rights to recompense, given the 
fact that money as capital could be 'put to work for a certain probable gain.' 
Money produced wealth by labouring rather than giving birth, a shift in 
definition, from the tainted association with female reproduction toward more 
wholesome activity, through the morally positive valence of work. 

After 1624 the practice of lending with interest was no longer seen 
as matter within religious jurisdiction. With its economic benefits laid out 
clearly, the practice of lending was defined in technical terms, so that abuses 
became a matter of individual conscience outside the jurisdiction of the state. 
"The logic of the market confounded all theology." Doctrine of stewardship — 
wealth was not a personal possession but a common property of humanity 
got invented. 

The detoxification of money was never complete. But arguments for 
the virtue of money, as a source of individual satisfaction, as well as a vehicle 
of philanthropy, became more widely acceptable. 

This gives me an opportunity to introduce the reader to two seminal 
intellectual influences which my contemporary academics sorely missed : 
Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation, (Bosten 1 957) and George Simmel, 
The Philosophy of Money, tr. Tom Bottomore and David Trisby, Bosten, 
1978; Economic activity was originally confined to the interstices of the society; 
it played a subordinate role within a larger system of social life. The reader is 
knowledgeable about the Thanedar fixing prices in the towns of medieval 
India. Modem economic life fundamentally altered the earlier social relations; 
'market economy' vanquished dominant forms of sociality. The motive of 

Book -Review 


individual action changed from subsistence to gain. Monetization, a process 
that involves more than the adoption of species as tokens of exchange, began 
to permeate social thought and a new way of thinking about many crucial 
matters. It imbued all things with its trade-mark characteristic of exchange 
with its propensity of creating-commodity fictions out of land, labour and 
money, "which are obviously not commodities and therefore not intended for 

Unrecognized in the typical account of money in the shadowy 
persistence of an abstract quality projected into money. According to Georg 
Simmel this constituted "the dual nature of money, as a concrete and valued 
substance and, at the same time, as something that owes its significance to 
the complete dissolution of substance into motion and function." Money can 
move between concrete form and abstract idea at any time, entering into 
intellectual tasks, such as measuring and comparing things, or relating different 
objects to a common scale of value — a conceptual scheme for the 
measurement of value. 

Proverbial wisdom 'Money is the only Monarch' magnified the 
potential of money to dominate human affairs and lent it a Machiavellian note. 
"If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master". Such observations captured 
the dyadic relationship between subject and object, which Georg Simmel 
characterized as a typical monetary relationship in general. 

Bishop Berkeley had anticipated Simmel by more than a century when 
he remarked that money acted as a principal stimulant of the imagination and 
an aid to mental power of abstraction. "This making and unmaking of ideas" 
could be tracked to daily experience at the gambling table, in Change Alley. 
Financial catastrophe like the South Sea Bubble (showed) that over stimulated 
imagination could wreak destruction in the real world of public wealth. That 
Locke and Berkeley were absorbed in analyzing the relationship between money 
and signifying power of the mind alerts us to the fact that the meaning of 
money passed through a period of epistemological and social flux at this time. 

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries thus constituted a transitional 
period during which a traditional notion of the individual as embedded in 
social relationships of obligation came into conflict with a new definition of 
the individual as severed from the tie of dependency. "Property in oneself' 
became a widely established principle as late seventeenth century thinkers 
embraced a more liberal, modem notion of freedom. Yet the fact that a system 
of slavery expanded in the American colonies while the Europeans trumpeted 
the ideal of freedom constitutes one of the paradoxes of intellectual 
history during this time. 

Sale of wives was an informal institution documented since medieval 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

times in Britain with greater frequency from 1740s. It was particularly 
noticeable between 1785 and 1845. The institution was flexible enough to 
carry many different messages, (i) an inexpensive method of divorce, (ii) 
shaming badly behaved spouses, (iii) street theatre. Hardwicke Marriage Act 
made second marriages more difficult for everyone, thus encouraging wife 
sale after 1753. (The phenomenon is comparable to increased incidence of 
Sati in Bengal after an enactment of widow's right of the property of deceased 
husband). The practice persisted well into the nineteenth century, memorialized 
(and in large part misrepresented) in Thomas Hardy's, The Mayer of 
Casterhridge (1886). The authoress makes out that there is a reference to 
this institution in Emmanuel Leroy Ladurie's, Love, Death and Money in the 
Pays d'Dc, pp. 138-140. There is nothing of the sort in the said pages. (Never 
depend on the research assistant is standing warning to the practitioners of 
the craft of history writing). 

Marc Bloch, the great French historian hoped, one day, historians 
would be able to write history of emotions. Centuries of Childhood and The 
Hour of Our Death are notable achivements. Now we come across Richard 
Newhauser's The Early History of Greed. Lastly the pedant's delight. There is 
a misprint on page 55 and number of books referred to in the footnotes failing 
to find room in the bibliography. 

Surjit Hans 

1238/1, Sector 43-B, Chandigarh. 


The Sikh Vision of Heroic Life and Death, by Nirbhai Singh, Published by 
Singh Brothers, Amritsar, 2006, pp. 288, Price Rs. 595/- 

The Sikh Vision of Heroic Life and Death offers a philosophical 
interpretation of the Sikh perspective on the heroic view of life and death 
from the existential standpoint. The central theme of the book emerges in the 
context of existential and societal situations. The present interpretation is 
based on the primary scriptural works. What imports greater insight to the 
argument of the book is the fact that it crystallizes in the crucible and the 
author’s creative reflection on the basis of the Sikh view of life and death. 
The major thrust of the study lies in deciphering the ciphers that constitute 
the core of The Sikh Canon ( The Guru Granth), in the contemporary 
philosophical idiom. It is the first book that employs a comprehensive 
interpretation to bring out the philosophical import of the Sikh faith and makes 
a paradigm shift in the domain of given Sikh studies and the approaches to the 
understanding and explanation of the Sikh view of life and death. 

The Sikh Canon had a radical departure from the religious and 
philosophical thought and practices of the Indian and the Semitic philosophies 
that were current in the medieval ages. It represented a philosophical endeavour 
to reinterpret the Indie and the Semitic religious traditions, without repudiating 
the pristine truth inherent in them. This is the objective formulation of the 
Gurus’ message. Their entire Sikh Philosophy is action-oriented and finds 
expression in Sikh spiritual voluntary and heroic actions. 

The book under review resuscitates the revealed illuminations of the 
Gurus and the Bhaktas enshrined in The Guru Granth. The epiphanies of the 
masters are reinterpreted in the modem philosophical idiom and a synthesis 
of the “two horizons” of the past and the present is dexterously mopped out. 
The medieval and the modern horizons are reconciled without digressing 
from the essential spirit of the Sikh faith. The perspective is in conformity 
with the medieval and the coeval cultural contexts. The model adopted by the 
author is cast in The Sikh Canon’s cultural paradigm, taken in its temporality, 
reaffirming the historicity of human action and the societal relationships. The 
focus throughout is on how the Gurus resolve the perennial problems in 
theoria and praxis. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

The author primarily addresses the inquisitive readers who share his 
cultural milieu and partake of the spirit that animates it. The present book 
does away with shoddy exegesis of the Sikh scriptures and the tradition. The 
philosophical import of the Sikh onto-theology is studied from candid stand 
point and thus encompasses catholicity. The exposition is not marred by 
bigotry and fanaticism. It tries to restore the pristine purity of the masters’ 
illuminations of understanding of meanings in the religious texts, interpretation 
is most important factor. For this purpose the second chapter discusses “the 
nature of religious language, the Numinous, and the world-views”. It also 
explains meaning and communication for understanding the sacred scriptures. 
These are necessary for understanding the philosophical questions and the 
singular contribution to the Sikh existentialist world-view. The fundamental 
problem is how to decode the scriptural ciphers and to conceptualize the Sikh 
world-view. The author has critically and analytically discussed these 
philosophical questions. 

The present work is the outcome of the author’s sustained pursuit of 
the Sikh thought at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, as Senior 
Fellow from October 1998 to December 2000. On the basis of the inner 
evidence of the Sikh scriptures, the author makes an earnest effort to work 
out that the ‘truth’ of the macrocosm lies within the microcosm, that is man. 
It is to be ‘created’ and projected by the person himself. It is within man and 
he has to discover it with the grace of God. The truth is revealed in the person 
(deha) of man and it becomes meaningful when it is articulated into a logical 
coherent construct and manifested through historical actions. The Gurus 
projected man as a concrete social being in society and in the nature. Man is 
real and his historical actions are also real. At the time of birth, man is a jiva 
(‘me’). The eternal identity of self (atman) is to be developed from within the 
jiva (‘me’). Man creates identity of his T from within and then projects it in 
the society to restore peace, harmony, and justice. He is to strive for spiritual 
unity with the Akalpurakh and emancipation of humanity from suffering. 
This is one of the singular contributions to Sikhism. The author incisively 
focuses on this aspect. 

The author holds the view that the ideal man of the Sikh faith, the 
gurmukh or the khalsa, is an embodiment of the Akalpurakh. The khalsa, the 
knight of the Akalpurakh , is always ready to stake his life for eradicating evil 
in the world. In this context, the tenth chapter is devoted to the creative 
progression of the self from the manmukh to the gurmukh. The progression 
is based on the conceptual formulation of the five khandas in The Japuji for 
carrying forward the argument. The eleventh chapter is devoted to the 
delineation of the passage from Guru Nanak’s conception of the khandas to 
the crystalization of the Khalsa-panth by Guru Gobind Singh. Thus, the author 



traces the temporal development of the self in the historical time. The eighth 
chapter addresses the crisis of the ‘personal identity’ of the Gurmukh. 

The Sikh faith emphasizes that human will represents the Divine Will 
( hukam ) and the autonomous human will is the founthead of all categorical 
imperatives (nishkama karmas). The author showcases the Sikh movement 
from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh as the unfolding of the human will 
and it harnessing to eradication of evil and tyranny in society. This perspective 
has not been explored with such incisiveness in any other book on Sikhism. 

The author accepts the concept of the existence of the ‘God of faith’ 
who is enshrined in the heart of the devotees. There is no transcendental God 
that is divorced from the phenomenal world. He is a votary of the Deity that 
is experienced by the mystic in moments of ecstasy. The mystic, in a state of 
trance, at once, belongs to the temporal and the eternal worlds. Thus God, as 
a constructed Deity, is projected as the eternal principle (hukam) for carrying 
out the dynamic destiny of the world. This is the hinge around which revolves 
theme of the book under the scanner. 

What is the status reality of the personal historical identity of the human 
beings? What is the reality of time and historical human action? What is the 
nature of man and his existential status in the social realities? How does Sikhism 
reconcile spiritualism with materialism or the transcendent with the immanent? 
What is voluntarism? What is the intrinsic value of freedom of will? Does 
freedom of man and social involvement go together? How does Sikhism 
critique contemporary conceptions of praxis? How does Sikhism synthesize 
theoria with praxis? These philosophical questions are analyzed in the corpus 
of the book. These concepts are explored for discerning the underlying ciphers, 
embedded in The Sikh Canon and the tradition. The meaning of the heroic 
human life and the death as postulated in the Sikh scripture and tradition is 
discussed threadbare. And other related issues are handled as auxiliary concepts. 

The whole endeavour aims at reconstructing the philosophical thought 
of Guru Nanak in the modem context. The author builds the thesis that 
historical Gum Nanak and the other contributors to The Sikh Canon try to 
harmonize with view of the reconstructed contributors because the Sikh 
tradition has added new dimensions to the original figures. The contributors’ 
views belong to varying religious and cultural milieus prevalent in different 
regions of India. They, in their respective regions, have personalities which 
differ from The Guru Granth. Further the historicity of the contributors to 
The Sikh Canon is accepted in a modified form. Similarly, Gum Gobind Singh 
of The Dasam Granth is different from the Gum Gobind Singh of history. 

In the case of the Sikh faith, The Guru Granth contains the revealed 
words (shabdas). The word is not an accidental voice. It encapsulates the 
totality of illuminations of the ultimate Being, Ik oankar. Rather the ten Gurus 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

are what they are because they embody the successive vibrations of the 
primordial voice (dhur ki bani). It is the historicity of the fleeting intimations 
of eternity. Waheguru is both an ontological category and an ecstatic state of 
the self-realized person. It is a perennial source of motivation and inspires the 
seeker to ascend from the lowest gross state of consciousness to the pinnacle 
of the emancipated consciousness. This is the purpose of human life. The 
passage of development is not confined to the alone. It implies carrying along 
others as well. 

To broad base the argument the author draws upon philosophical and 
scriptural primary sources. Socrates’ epigrammatic statement “Virtue is 
Knowledge” meaning that true knowledge yields virtuous deeds. Guru Nanak, 
in one of his hymns says that truth is higher than everything, but truthful 
living is higher than that even. Similarly, Kabir in one of his hymns says ‘to 
know, is to be’. It means that thinking implies doing or theoria implies praxis. 
The Gita proclaims: whenever there is a moral degeneration in the society, 
the incarnate (avtara) would descend on the earth to restore justice and 
eradicate evil. It is not the mere ‘thought’, but the ‘active’ will that restores 
moral order and justice in the society. The Gurus emphasize the practical 
aspect of human personality. Perhaps, this is the purpose of human life in all 
the religious traditions of the world. 

The author underscores the point that Sikhism places man in the concrete 
existential, historical and societal situations. The incarnate (avtara) lies dormant 
within man. Man is to be awakened to make him act in history for executing 
the Divine Will as a responsible moral voluntarist person. The khalsa must 
always be ready to discharge his duties for the welfare of all and sundry. 
Performing disinterested deed is a matter of commitment to the Akalpurakh 
for the khalsa. 

The Supreme Being in Sikhism, the Kartapurakh, is not only the bhogata 
(sufferer/enjoyer) and the inactive drishta (seer), but the karta (doer/creator) 
as well. Man is His miniature representative in history. He executes the divine 
will in voluntarist manner. He regards the word as rightly interprets that the 
word itself is symbolic of the deed or action. The word is the energy that 
rises from the gross to the pure consciousness. In this way, man also becomes 
the seer, the enj oyer/sufferer and the doer/creator.. The three dimensions 
constitute the perfect triangle of the Sikh voluntarism. The history speaks 
volumes of the Sikh voluntarism. The baptized khalsas sacrificed their lives 
whenever they were called upon to die for a noble cause. Death never deters 

Since time immemorial the quest of reality, the purpose of human life 
and the scheme of nature has been going on both in the East and the West. 
The Socratic dictum ‘know thyself and the Upanishadic epigrammatic 



utterance “aham brahma asmi, i.e., I am Brahman” epitomize the philosophical 
import of seeking the truth. Whenever precedence is given to the universal or 
essence (brahmanda), the particular or existence (pinda) is minimized. 

In order to bring about harmony between Eternity and temporality, the 
ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, carried forth their crusade 
for the revivification of man amidst the fluxionai and stark social realities. 
The mystical inferences of the contributors to The Sikh Canon flow from the 
perceptions (pratyaksha) of the real point-instants. The self (‘me’) of man is 
ensconced in the flux. Man is to develop his personal historical identity as the 
eternal ‘I’ without having inherited any ideas a priori. The ‘me’ of man is 
potentially the eternal T (atmari). The ontic identity of the atman is to be the 
‘I’ that is to be brought out from within while living in the world. The past 
sanskaras (deeds), as a priori reservoir of knowledge are nullified in the context 
of the dynamic ontology of Sikhism. This forms the genesis of human creativity 
and the basis of the development of the ‘I’ from the ‘me’. Thus, creative 
faculty is based on intuitive insight. It helps to pluck out the heart of mystery 
that is human life and the world. 

It has been argued in the book that consciousness and will are different 
dimensions of human life. The reality or truth is always in flux in the ‘present’. 
Sikhism lays emphasis on it. The past is constantly being actualized and the 
future is eternally possible. Human consciousness has been progressing in 
the present. Personal identity in history is to be actualized in the present and 
in the socio-cultural milieu. Man is bom with his ‘me’ that is to be transformed 
into the ‘I’ that mirrors the macrocosm. The ‘I’ is to be created by man 
himself. From this standpoint we assign expressions, like, development, life 
content, human development, etc., to the Godward ascent of man. It has 
been expressed or rationalized by means of time (kala) and space (dasa). 
There is no eternal self or soul-substance as such. It is to be evolved from 
within the self. And there is no dichotomy between the world and the self. 
Both represent activity at the micro and the macro levels. 

Man is faced with inescapable limitations to realize his full expression 
and achieve transcendence from the fear of death. He, often, seeks security 
in religious constructs and resorts to bliss. The book brings into sharp focus 
this central problem of the medieval devotional literature. It pertains to the 
revivification of the dynamic view of human life. For the medieval Bhaktas 
and the Gurus, the emancipation of man from sorrow and pangs of life was 
the most primary concern. They organized a subaltern revolt for the 
amelioration of the conditions of common people of India. They analyzed the 
human situation from the existential standpoint. 

The present work analyses the meaning and purpose of human life 
from varying perspectives with a special reference to Sikhism. It sheds light 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

on the holistic dynamic view of the self in the societal relationships. We can 
understand man only in his existential situation in relation to the other fellow 
beings. Man realizes his personal identity and freedom in society only. This is 
the crux ofyoluntarism that is explored in details. This constitutes the existential 
approach of the Medieval Bhaktas and the Sikh Gurus. 

The present work offers an analysis of the concept of man’s volitional 
deeds that is central to the Sikh dynamic life. It is an attempt in the direction 
of striking an optimal balance between theoria and praxis. It addresses two 
major issues. What is the ontic status of the mind and the world? Is this 
world abstract or concrete? In order to test its verity, it is verified in praxis. 
The optimal synthesis of theoria and praxis is discussed from The Guru 
Granthian standpoint that is anchored on the concept of dynamic truth. The 
dynamism is derived from the Sikh dynamic onto-theology. It unfolds the 
dynamic view of life. 

The cardinal concern of the medieval devotional literature pertains to 
the restoration of the dynamic view of human life, world and the Numinous, 
and salvaging it from the quagmire of ritualism and formalism. It was a 
subaltern movement for the amelioration of the lot of the marginalized landless 

The most important aspect of the book is that it has given “key to 
transliteration/pronunciation of Gurmukhi, Devnagri, and shahmukhi used in 
the book. The diacritics give oriental colour to the book. They help the reader 
in finding out the exact meaning of the word. 

S. Gursagar Singh, proprietor M/s Singh Brothers, 1 deserves all 
appreciation for the elegant get-up and layout of the book. 

Ranbir Singh Sarao 

Former Director and Professor, 
I. A S. Training Centre, Punjabi University, Patiala. 


Jinnah and Punjab : Shamsul Hasan Collection and Other Documents 1944- 
1947, edited by Amarjit Singh, Published by Kanishka Publishers & 
Distributors, New Delhi, 2007, pp. I-XIV + 1-354, Price Rs. 850/- 

The book under review is an invaluable contribution to the partition 
studies in general and Jinnah, the Sole Spokesman, in particular. Since the 
nationalistic euphoria of Independence has subsided, the scholars and historians 
are turning towards the harsh and horrendous realities of the partition. New 
source material is coming into light impinging upon ‘the partition’ with new 
insights and perspectives. Nicholas Mansergh, S.Q. Hussain Jaffi, Lionel Carter 
and Dr. Kirpal Singh have done yeomen’s service in publishing rare documents 
relating to the Punjab of the 1940s. Amarjit Singh’s work is a significant 
contribution to this genre of historical literature. 

Syed Shamsul Hasan was the Honorary Secretary of the All-India Muslim 
League. He diligently kept the records. The Shamsul Hasan Collection, Punjab, 
contains the correspondence between the local and the provincial level leaders 
of the League and M.A. Jinnah covering the period from 1944 to 1947. The 
period is significant as “the principal Muslim League under the guidance of 
M.A. Jinnah influenced and shaped the provincial politics in its most turbulent 
years through its transformation from a narrowly based, essentially an urban 
party to mass based instrument of political mobilization and realization of the 
goal of Pakistan”. The documents numbering 275 have been arranged 
chronologically with a view to situate the partition and Pakistan in the roller 
coaster of fast-moving historical march in India of the 1940s. The editor has 
done his job well by providing a glossary, biographical notes and reconstructing 
chronology to provide bird’s eye view of myriad moves of politicians and 
colonial czars at the time of imperial withdrawal from the Indian sub-continent. 
The story of the All-India Muslim League is long over due and hence the 
importance of this Collection. Moreover, the enigmatic personality of 
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Qaid-e-Azam, has captured the fancy of many a 

The historiography of the partition is well structured. On the one hand, 
the independence of India marked the success of the Indian National movement 
but on the other hand, the partition of India symbolized the failure of the 


April 2007 

The Panjab Past And Present 

Indian nationalism. The growth of the Muslim League and the demand of 
Pakistan in the Punjab have engaged the attention of almost all thd historians 
of modem India. The single-handed stewardship of M. A Jinnah to steer the 
course of the All India Muslim League diffidently still remains enigmatic. In 
such a situation, new source material helps the scholars to historicise the 
mind and politics of M.A. Jinnah. The historians of different schools of 
historiography such as Imperial, Nationalist, Marxist, Cambridge etc. have 
minutely studied the documents available in libraries, depositories and personal 
collections and presented a cogent picture of the partition and Independence. 
However, quest to know continues especially in the light of new source material. 

After the perusal of the documents, the editor rightly singles out two 
dominant concerns : (1) the national politics and the fortune of the All India 
Muslim League, its relationship with the Indian National Congress and the Raj 
which profoundly affected the strength and position of the Punjab Provincial 
Muslim League; and (2) the diplomacy, tactics, leadership and maneuver of 
M.A. Jinnah provided strength and motivations to the Punjab Muslim League 
and the Muslims of Punjab and guided them towards the goal of Pakistan, In 
the elections of 1936-37, the Muslim League lost miserably and M.A. Jinnah 
called the Punjab ‘a hopeless place’ (p. 19). But the elections of 1946, put life 
into the Muslim League and it never looked back, thus, giving a decisive turn 
to the demand for Pakistan (p. 35). In this context, the Shamsul Hasan 
Collection assumes significance. All the League leaders putting their best in 
organising the elections in the Punjab. M.A Jinnah hoped that the Punjab will 
not fail the League. During the elections, leadership of Jinnah and centrality 
of Punjab appear conspicuous. At the end, the League reaped the rich harvest. 
There is a popular perception that M.A, Jinnah followed crass political agenda. 
The Collection debunks such a charge. M.A. Jinnah and the League leaders 
were dealing with matters like society, culture, religion, economy, finance, 
industry, scientific development, foreign affairs, diplomacy, language, literature, 
press, education and the position of women, thus, adding meaning to the 
Muslim nationalism. Moreover, M.A. Jinnah was communicating with all the 
sections of the Punjabi Muslims and in the process, the Muslim League emerged 
as a body of the Muslim masses with the aim of establishing a sovereign state 
of Pakistan (p. 31). 

A peek into the documents reveal a mine of information. M.A. Jinnah in 
November 1944 being mentioned as ‘the Father of Muslim Nation’ (p.74). In 
Januaiy 1945, Mumtaz Daultana writing to M.A. Jinnah that ‘everyday the 
League is getting stronger and closer to our people’, thus, anticipating the 
League surge (p. 92). M.A. Jinnah writing to Nawab ofMamdot about ‘several 



breakdowns’ and doctor’s ‘serious warning and strict orders to have complete 
rest’ (pp. 101, 1 15-116). In the Collection, the issue of M.A. Jinnah’s declining 
health appears time and again, though the nature of ailment remains unknown. 
The Muslim women with elite background becoming politically hectic (p.2 1 4). 
Lady Vicky Noon wife of Malik Feroz Khan Noon regularly wrote to M.A. 
Jinnah about the politics of Punjab and kept him well informed. The Collection 
contains 20 letters to M.A. Jinnah. During the Provincial Legislative Assembly 
Elections in the Punjab 1946, M.A. Jinnah noticed ‘a tremendous upsurge 
and complete solidarity’ amongst the Muslims of the Punjab and ‘a remarkable 
and revolutionary cjiange’ (p.193). Mrs. K.L. Rallia Ram, an Indian Christian 
and General Secretary of the Indian Social Congress, wrote to M.A. Jinnah in 
June 1946 that it will be the business of the Muslims to tell the minorities that 
they have nothing to fear, their rights would be safeguarded. She is the most 
frantic non-Leaguer communicator to M.A. Jinnah. She was the mother-in- 
law of Mr. Mohammad Yunus, Secretary of Abdul Gaffar Khan, the Frontier 
Gandhi (pp. 246, 248-50). The Collection contains 27 out of total 275 letters. 
Interestingly, M.A. Jinnah rarely replies back (only five times) and that too in 
conventional pronouncements. Mrs. K. L. Rallia Ram’s case is worth probing 
especially her vengeance towards the Hindus. She considered the Indian 
National Congress as the body of the caste Hindus intending to establish the 
caste Hindu rule in India. M. A. Jinnah giving directive to the Punjab Provincial 
Muslim League after the resignation of Malik Khizr Hayat Khan Tiwana, the 
Punjab Premier, that ‘it is the sacred duty of the Musalmans of the Punjab to 
protect the minorities that live amongst them’ (p. 329). Mostly, M.A. Jinnah 
communicates through the press. What happened between March 3 rd to 1 5 th 
August 1947, the Collection maintains a tacit silence, perhaps the conscious 
weeding out process it had to pass through after the creation of Pakistan. 
There are only five letters and the last being on July 28th 1947. Such gaps are 
glaring. Perhaps the events had over-taken the Muslim League and the Leader. 
Moreover most of these are the tardy press clippings. History as a discipline 
is witness of Vandals from within. 

The editor justifiably claims that “the documents help us to understand 
the tactics, strategies and maneuvers of M.A. Jinnah” and “the ways how 
Jinnah guided the Muslims of Punjab into the mainstream Muslim Politics”. 
The process of institutionalization of the Muslim League and M.A. Jinnah 
comes out graphically in the Collection. M- A. Jinnah responding to commoners 
adds new dimension to his otherwise reticent and aristocratic personality. It 
adds to 'the high politics’ of the partition where M.A. Jinnah is portrayed as a 
shrewd bargainer but he virtually emerges as an able organizer answering 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

small quaries when time factor was sinking in the hour glass of national 

Sukhdev Singh Sohal 

Department of History, 
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar (Pb.). 


Reflections on Baba Dyal and Nirankari Movement, 
edited by Navtej Singh, Published by Punjabi University, Patiala, 2007, 
pp. VII+164, Price Rs. 260/- 

The eighteen articles comprising this book were presented at a one-day 
seminar organized by the Department of Punjab Historical Studies in the month 
of May 2006. The theme of the seminar was ‘Reflections on Baba Dyal and 
Nirankari Movement’, and it was attended by more than a dozen scholars 
from the region including the History Departments of its universities. Never 
before it the professional Historians in such a large number deliberated on the 
origin and genesis of the Nirankari movement. In fact this fruitful academic 
exercise took place partly by the efforts of Dr Man Singh Nirankari and partly 
by the endeavours of the present Head of the Punjab Historical Studies 
Department. The Department and its staff also deserves a pat on its back for 
bringing out the proceedings of the seminar in print within a period of less 
than a year. 

‘Inaugural Address’ by Dr Man Singh Nirankari referred to the 
circumstances giving birth to the Nirankari mission during the early 1 9 th century. 
The violent clash between the Sikhs and the Mughal state since the days of 
Guru Gobind Singh gradually disoriented the religious tenets of Sikhism as 
started by Guru Nanak. The success of Sikh polity further compromised the 
social radicalism by slowing down the transformatory derive of the Sikh 
organization. The political success became a social and cultural failure because 
“many social reforms emphasized by the Gurus could not become 
institutionalized or a part of daily practice” (p.2). But polity alone was not 
responsible for this derailment. There was another factor. It was the ‘deep 
Hindu background’ of the Sikh social order (p.3). Under Maharaja Ranjit 
Singh the socially conservative forces became powerful. It happened because 
“he was not a religious leader” (p.4). The granthis and pujaris that guided 
him “were all completely following the Brahmanic religious practices” (Ibid). 
Depicting the pre-Baba Dyal Sikh society, Dr Man Singh Nirankari writes : 
Prejudices, superstitions, and the caste division once again came into 
play, the practice of Sati, female infanticide, incarceration of widows, 
brutalities against the lower castes tore the social fabric, and all the 
reforms introduced by the Gurus were forgotten (p. 4). 

The circumstances produced the man, and he choose to change them. 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

Baba Dyal stressed a return to Guru’s words “which should be allowed to 
speak with finality” (p.5). His successor Baba Darbara Singh issued 
Hukamnama that contained all the rites, ceremonies according to the Guru 
Sabad’ concerning birth, marriage and death’. 

Background of the Nirankari movement as painted by Dr Man Singh 
Nirankari leaves no scope for Baba Dyal to be a political thinker or a national 
reformer. Interestingly, the Doctor refers to Khalsa as “the Khalsa Army” 
(p.3). It reminds us John C.B. Webster who is otherwise not part of the 
proceedings/volume under review. 

Cold attitude of the early Nirankaries towards Khalsa and its Rahit was 
highlighted by Prof. J.S.Grewal in his key-note. Baba Dayal was well within 
the early Sikh tradition save the doctrine of Guru Panth, though the doctrine 
of Guru Granth too, was not followed logically to deny Guruship in human-" 
form. Baba Dayal and his successors emerged as the Satguru in the 19 th 
century itself (p.23). 

According to Dr. Joginder Singh the beliefs and practices of Baba Dyal 
can be put in the context of written Sikh traditions, for these do accord to 
them (p. 29). Atleast in one respect, the reformers, however, went beyond 
the traditional rehitnamas. They introduced the Anand marriage which was 
nowhere stated inthe rehitnamas (p.3 1 ). 

More than one scholar in the book treated the Nirankari Hukamnama. 
Infact, a major portion of the book is devoted to this document. However, the 
text of the Hukamnama used by Dr Madanjit Kaur (pp. 52-61) and others is 
different from the one that stands inserted immediately after Dr. K.S.Bajwa’s 
article (pp. 73-82). I wish the editorial authority should have taken a note of 
this fact. Be as it may, the document makes an interesting study. It helps us in 
understanding the kind of religious revival was possible under the British. 

The book under review has five research articles in Punjabi.. Two of 
these are relatively more critical, these are by Dr. Kuldip Singh Dhir and Dr. 
Sukhdial Singh. Dhir elaborated the process by which the Nirankar is emerged 
as a distinct ‘sect’. Dr. Sukhdial Singh feels that one can think of the origin of 
Nirankaris only after 1 820 when Rawalpindi was added to the Sikh rule (p. 
134). Strangely, he makes Prem Sumarag Granth as a Namdhari work (p. 138). 

Reflections on Saba Dyal makes an interesting reading. Hope the theme 
will attract more scholarly attention in the days to come, and this small book 
will prove useful to the students of Sikh studies as well. 

Nazer Singh 


Dhadi Darbar : Religion, Violence and the Performance of 
Sikh History, by Michael Nijhawan, Published by Oxford, New Delhi, 
2006, pp. Xiii+272, Price Rs.545/- 

The consequences of Partition violence in 1947 and the 1984 crisis 
inspired the author to explore culture in its aftermath. Especially the response 
of a tradition with cultural and religious pluralism to the situations of crisis 
and violence. Further to explore relationship between the performers or 
troubadours of this cultural expression with the religious and political discourse 
and also the patrons. In fact, the study traces origin of the Dhadis or dhadi 
prampra, changes in generic form and ideological content, ways in which it 
is related to agendas of religious and political identity formation in the 20 ,h 
century Punjab. It emphasises the translatability and legitimization of violence 
in the post-partition context including the militancy of 1980's and early 1990's. 
The central concern being an anthropological understanding of the socio- 
cultural processes that shape the way in which popular culture makes sense 
of these events and thus gives form to historical consciousness. 

In Punjab dhadi as a tradition of a particular body of discursive and 
aesthetic knowledge has been handed down over many generations. The 
framework of the dhadi genre is historically not confined to the performance 
of Sikh history — up to partition, there was a large group of Muslim and low- 
caste performers with a broad repertoire of epic and folk narratives. Dhadi 
genre emerged as a culturally specific media and performative practice of 
rural Punjab. It has its own cultural attitudes and aesthetics which do not 
always fit into the agenda of political and religious actors. Dhadi tradition is 
an important field of cultural production which involves processes of collective 
self-definition and historical imagination, a way of understanding the pastness 
of the present. 

The early tradition of dhadis or darbari dhadis was marked by the 
singing of birha geet and bir rasa. The colonial situation witnessed addition 
of new subjects related to the Nankana Sahib massacre, episode of Gurdwara 
Shahid Ganj, Baba Deep Singh, Bhai Mani Singh, Bhai Taru Singh, Saka 
Chamkaur Sahib and the partition. The author argues that the inherited language 
of martyrdom and violence in the dhadi tradition at times sustained political 
cultures of violence. Dhadi performers, particularly in rural Punjab, have 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

been engaged in relating particular historical representations to project collective 
self-definition that were at times violently opposed to other political formations. 
That dhadi texts and performances in terms of entertainment and expressive 
culture are not separable from political discourses. But not that these 
performers inspired audiences to commit violent acts. Neither they were solely 
and entirely engaged in political discourses. Rather representational practices 
entailed violent events and how violence is translated in cultural and social 

Because violence and suffering do not lend themselves easily to verbal 
representations, the sonic dimension of the dhadi genre has had a particular 
appeal in translating suffering and pain into collectively shared forms of 
aesthetic experience. People in Punjab have assumed the dhadi voice to be 
capable of transforming feelings of rage, anger, sadness and grief into particular 
aesthetic forms in which these feelings were given a. particular gestalt. That 
the performance of a particular genre and narrative repertoire though socially 
recognized and attributed to a particular collective identity, is never entirely 
defined by this relationship. That in the early 20 th century the dhadi performers 
attempted to create linkages between dhadi tradition and the discourse of 
Sikh identity politics in making the genre suitable for public Sikh self- 
representation. In the course of the reformist movements performers sought 
to change the narrative repertoires and the social image of the genre so that it 
could be meaningfully related to an emerging Sikh political community ( qaum ) 
with its new institutions in the colonial and nation state. 

Because rural Sikhs had their own vision of how reformist religion and 
traditional idioms of piety, sociality, and public performance had to be brought 
into perspective. This move was enabled by the political and social dynamics 
during these years of social mobilization and political unrest. These resulted 
in a proliferation of public gatherings and performances in which dhadi 
performers could participate and acquire new roles as proponents of various 
protest movements. They could emerge as 'People's historians' to engage in 
pre-partition public sphere. 

The impact of reformist and nationalist discourses, the subsequent 
dismissal of ludic forms of dhadi performance, and the almost exclusive 
relocation of the dhadi tradition within Sikh gurmat, did not come without a 
sense of loss and ambiguity. The ambivalence inherent to the relationship 
between the dhadi tradition and the Sikh community has not really vanished 
and it is clearly expressed in the way Sikh performers relate to their self- 
image in a language of neglect and social marginality. The formation of a 
collective union ( Sabha ) during recent years is testimony to the question of 
their survival. They perceive their legitimate place within the Sikh gurmat 

Book -Review 


tradition on the basis of their proclaimed pious living and moral conduct as 
Khalsa Sikhs, It is on these grounds, rather than by mere political affiliation 
or a self-understanding of a 'service-caste' of a particular patron, that they 
have claimed social recognition. That the Sikh dhadi performers represent 
themselves as part of the heroic history of the Sikh qaum : in gesture, voice 
and body language and is a matter of complex processes of enactment, 
interpretation and the contestation over meanings available in discourses that 
are at public disposal. 

Thus the study makes very interesting analysis and invites historical 
view point to address the issue in broader and chronological perspective. It 
necessitates addressing the questions that how and why this tradition 
originated? Who were the social category of people engaged in such 
assignments? What were their areas of interest during different political, 
religious and cultural realms? What were the popular and state responses? 
How did this community of dhadis survive economically, socially and, of 
course, politically? What were the public and self-images of dhadis? And 
lastly, a detail account of their roles during pre-British, colonial and post- 
colonial situations alongwith identification of prominent and popular dhadis. 
Yet, it certainly goes to the credit of the author to initiate debate on a topic of 
much significance and importance in Sikh histoiy and culture with a particular 
view point leaving space for further deeper explorations. 

Navtej Singh 
Reader & Head, 
Punjab Historical Studies Department, 
Punjabi University, Patiala. 


Emergence of the Image : Redact Documents of Udham Singh, edited by 
Navtej Singh & Avtar Singh Jouhl, National Book Organisation, New 
Delhi, 2002, pp. XX+521, Price Rs. 850/- 

The book, edited by Dr Navtej Singh, Head, Department of Punjab 
Historical Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala and Avtar Singh Jouhl, General 
Secretary of Indian Workers' Association, Great Britain and a Trustee of Shaheed 
Udham Singh Welfare TrusfBirmingham, is a compilation of certain unknown 
documents related to S. Udham Singh. These documents are important and 
advantageous on two counts : (i) that these documents provide sufficient 
proof for rebuilding the personality of Udham Singh; tell about his background, 
activities in India and his other qualities in India and abroad; purpose and for 
the emergence of a personality different than was usually thought of by the 
scholars and writers of the past; (ii) Not only the image of Udham Singh is 
rebuilt but side by side the attitude of many individuals, leaders and also the 
Indian subjects along with the aim and objectives of the British Government/ 
imperialists towards Indians and their nationalism and the question of 
communalism are quite visible. In brief these documents are surely a very 
valuable evidence that help to rebuild the recent past with clarity and accuracy. 
Thus, these add a fresh knowledge to the historical understanding of the 
human-beings in this sub-continent of India. 

The documents edited in this book, apart from other forms of evidence, 
are the major and significant basis for the construction of historical account 
of any specific space and time. Fortunately for the scholars in particular and 
other writers in general, there is abundance of written evidence but the access 
to all source material remains difficult due to a number of circumstances. 
The political interference remains a major check on the retrieving of documents 
and Udham Singh's case is one of such example. 

Let it be noticed that it was in 1 996-97, the British administration allowed 
to have access to the five files of the different departments of the state and 
the evidence obtained from these files have been selected and edited with 
utmost care by the two scholars of great repute. 

In its introduction, the purpose of British imperialism and its structure 
have been highlighted. The British wanted to create a colony based on unequal 
relationship and on the exploitation of resources of the colonized population. 



The concept of feudalism, capitalism and colonialism became basis of the 
British government. This all is very vividly depicted in the documents preserved 
in the five files released and the total number of pages of these documents in 
these five files is 771 as follows : MEP03/1743-1 1 1; PCOM9/873-180; P&J(S) 
466/36-135; HO 144/2 1444- 163; and HO 144/2 1445- 182. These documents 
have not only been carefully selected rather these documents provide the 
basis of the emergence of a definite image of Udham Singh in a new 
perspective. These documents assist not only to build up his personality as 
revolutionary of Ghadr Group but also highlight the value of imperial power, 
its institutions, many Indian and non-Indian political figures; also throw light 
on his supporters and opponents, his attitude towards his action, towards the 
goal of achieving freedom, his devotion to Shaheed Bhagat Singh and close 
association with him before his execution and his active role in the activities 
of the Ghadr group. 

Both the editors have done justice with the subject and presented these 
documents in the right perspective. It is worth mentioning that all the 
documents edited and given in this book throw ample light on the early career 
including Udham Singh's schooling and even higher education, his interests, 
leaning towards a particular ideology, his role in the nationalist movement, 
etc. His family and family background are visible in these documents. 
Downtrodden and oppressed people of India, the British policies and their 
attitude towards them as well as other sections of the society have also been 
narrated in these documents which make them very valuable source not only 
for the study of Udham Singh but for the political, socio-economic conditions, 
British imperialist policy, their economic and commercial interest as well as 
their colonial and capitalist approach. 

The credit of the selection of the said documents goes to their two 
editors - Dr Navtej Singh and Avtar Singh Jouhl. They are not moved by any 
kind of emotion or passion, instead they seem completely involved in objectivity 
of these documents. They seem particularly concerned with the sequence 
and chronology of these documents and kept in mind that the facts narrated 
in them are found in other source material such as government records, 
private diaries, manuscripts and even private correspondence among the varied 
leaders of different shades. A few of these documents are very interesting 
because of the nature of their subject and also interesting way of conveying 
the various happenings. The editors have taken care of the art of scientific 
writing as well as the research methodology of the discipline of history. I 
congratulate Dr Navtej Singh, in particular who has succeeded in collecting, 
compiling and then not only editing but giving them a shape of book which on 
the one hand speaks of his interest in the subject of history and his caliber as 
a very good scholar who can give scientific narration, interpretation to the 


The Panjab Past And Present 

April 2007 

original documents/writings critically and without having any bias in mind. 

S.D. Gajrani 
Professor of History (Retd.), 
Punjabi University, Patiala.